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Portrait of Henrik Smith. Photo.

Henrik Smith


Portrait of Henrik Smith. Photo.

What measures should be taken to improve conditions for Swedish Farmland Birds, as reflected in the Farmland Bird Index?


  • Åke Lindström
  • Ola Olsson
  • Henrik G. Smith
  • Martin Stjernman

Summary, in English

Many birds species connected to the agricultural landscape have for several decades fared poorly in Sweden, as well as in Europe as a whole. This is reflected in the decline of the Farmland Bird Index, an official EU indicator for farmland birds specifically, and biodiversity in general. The Swedish Board of Agriculture invited us to propose measures that will improve the conditions for farmland birds in Sweden.
In this report, we have briefly summarized the scientific literature on potential drivers of farmland bird numbers, analysed temporal trends in farmland birds and some farming practices, and modelled the spatial distribution of farmland birds in relation to farming practices. The bird data come from the Swedish Breeding Bird Survey, and the farming practise data from the Swedish Land Parcel Information System (Swedish Board of Agriculture). Based on our findings, we propose a suit of measures concerning the quantity and quality of farmland that would improve the future conditions for farmland birds. At the more general level, farmland birds would benefit if the ongoing loss of farmland in general and important semi-natural habitats in particular was halted. We also propose that farmland birds would benefit from measures taken to promote mixed farming (combined animal husbandry and crop production at the same farms), notably to increase crop farming in the north and animal husbandry on the plains. Increased use of set-asides of various kind, not least those of varied vegetation structure and year-round cover, would also benefit farmland birds. Furthermore, farmland birds would most likely also benefit from more wetlands in the Agricultural landscape, reduced use of pesticides and inorganic fertilizers, and more spring-sown crops. They may benefit from higher crop diversity at the farm level, and we found some evidence for this. Some more directed measures may also benefit the Farmland Bird Index; we found support for the benefits of wild bird cover (“fågelåkrar”), skylark plots (“lärkrutor”), buffer strips (“skyddszoner”) and appropriately managed ecological focus areas (“ekologiska fokusområden”).


  • Biodiversity
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science

Publishing year








Document type





  • Environmental Sciences
  • Ecology




  • Swedish bird monitoring

Research group

  • Biodiversity and Conservation Science