Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Restore or create shrubland

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

Study locations

Key messages

  • Only one of the four studies captured investigated the effects of shrubland restoration in isolation. This small before-and-after study from the UK found that one or two pairs of northern lapwing bred on an area of restored moorland, whereas none had previously bred in the area.
  • A study from the USA and one from the Azores found that populations of target species (gamebirds and seabirds) increased following shrubland restoration, amongst other interventions.
  • A replicated study from the UK which did not distinguish between several interventions performed found a negative relationship between the combined intervention and the ratio of young-to-old grey partridges.


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 small 1967 study in Maryland, USA (Burger & Linduska 1967), investigated the impact of planting areas of shrub, as well as other interventions, on northern bobwhites Colinus virginianus and found that the population on the farm increased from five to 38 coveys in eight years. This study is described in detail in ‘Threat: Agriculture – Plant new hedges’.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A small before-and-after study on an area of purple moor grass Molina caerulea dominated moorland in northern England (Smith & Bird 2005) in 2004-5 found that one or two pairs of northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus bred on a an area of restored moorland, whereas none had previously bred in the area. The moorland was mowed and flailed in 2004, which encouraged grass re-growth and subsequent heavy grazing by both livestock and wild red deer Cervus elaphus.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A before-and-after study on Praia Islet (12 ha), off Graciosa, Azores, Portugal (Bried et al. 2009), found that the breeding populations of common terns Sterna hiundo, roseate terns S. dougallii and Madeiran storm petrel Oceanodroma castro increased dramatically after European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus eradication and subsequent habitat restoration. Restoration included the planting of native shrubs, the removal of non-native species and the control of soil erosion. This study is also discussed in ‘Provide artificial nesting sites’ for ground-nesting and burrow-nesting seabirds.

    Study and other actions tested
  4. A replicated site comparison study on 1,031 agricultural sites across England in 2004-8 (Ewald et al. 2010) investigated the impact of scrub restoration on grey partridge Perdix perdix. However, the study does not distinguish between the impacts of scrub restoration, scrub control, rough grazing and the restoration of various other semi-natural habitats. There was a negative relationship between the combined intervention and the ratio of young to old partridges in 2008.

    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

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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