Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Offer per clutch payment for farmland birds

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One of two replicated and controlled studies from the Netherlands found that farms with per clutch payments held slightly higher breeding densities of waders, but not higher overall numbers than control farms. One study found no population effects over three years.
  • A replicated and controlled study found higher hatching success on farms with payment schemes than control farms.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated and controlled study on intensive dairy grassland in the western Netherlands between 1993 and 1996 (Musters et al. 2001) found that northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus and black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa showed higher hatching success on 15 farms offered per-clutch payments for farmland birds than on nine control farms (65% vs. 48% for lapwing, 63% vs. 39% for godwits). A non-significant difference was also seen for common redshank Tringa totanus (39% vs. 21%). There were no differences in treatment during 1993-4, before payments. The number of control farms was reduced to three in 1995-6, because the farmers on other farms had become too involved in conservation for their farms still to be considered true controls. No other bird conservation measures were in place and the cost was estimated at €40/clutch. Population-level impacts were not observed, possibly due to the relatively short time-scale and small number of farms.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated and controlled paired sites study in the western Netherlands in 2003 (Verhulst et al. 2007) found slightly higher breeding densities of birds on 19 grassland plots with per-clutch payments for wader clutches, compared to 19 paired, control plots, both when delayed mowing was also used and when per-clutch payment was the only scheme used (13 territories/plot for combined schemes; 13 territories/plot for per-clutch payment and 11 territories/plot for controls). However, birds were not more abundant under either scheme, compared with controls (approximately 125 birds/plot for combined schemes; 125 birds/plot for per-clutch payment and 110 birds/plot for controls). Wader breeding densities were higher (but not significantly so) on combined and per-clutch payment plots (approximately 7 territories/plot for combined schemes; 7 territories/plot for per-clutch payment and 5 territories/plot for controls). When individual wader species were analysed, there were higher numbers of redshank Tringa totanus on combined or per-clutch payment plots (approximately 5 birds/plot for combined schemes; 5 birds/plot for per-clutch payment and 3 birds/plot for controls), but there were no significant differences in breeding densities for redshank, northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus or black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa. The authors suggest that groundwater depth, soil hardness and prey density drove these patterns. All farms had been operating the schemes for at least three (and an average of four) years before the study. This study is also discussed in ‘Delay haying/mowing’.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust