Update: Posted 11.25am Monday 25th June:
We’ve updated our blog below to reflect our further analysis of BTO’s independent report since its release on Friday. It is useful to understand that where the BTO 's report refers to ‘Lodge Hill’, it does not mean the SSSI boundary but to clusters of nightingales in the Lodge Hill area. In some of the BTO's scenarios, "Lodge Hill" therefore refers to an area wider than the SSSI, sometimes less, depending on the criteria used to define the cluster. To confirm, when the RSPB talks about 'Lodge Hill' and 'Save Lodge Hill', we mean the 'Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest', which has a fixed boundary.
We feel it is important to make this clarification. However, what is critical in this is that the BTO report does confirm, without doubt, that Lodge Hill SSSI and the area immediately around it is the single best site in the UK for breeding nightingales, and that nightingales need our support more than ever before.
BTO confirm that Lodge Hill is the UK’s best site for breeding nightingales
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) research shows that nightingale numbers in England are continuing to drop. Yet Lodge Hill, in Kent, continues to attract more than 1% of the UK breeding nightingale population; proving how vital the location is for these threatened birds.
Yet Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the best breeding site for nightingales in the UK, is currently under threat of development.
Medway's Local Plan includes an option to build directly on the protected habitat, which was declared nationally important for nightingales in 2013.
We don't have much time left to speak out against this. The consultation ends this Monday, 25 June at 12.00pm.
If Medway Council's plan goes ahead, this could be one of the nation’s greatest losses of a protected area in 30 years.
Please join us and other conservation organisations in speaking out against this development now.
The BTO research team, led by Dr Chris Hewson, involved thousands of volunteer hours and used several analytical methods to create and assess the most robust nightingale population estimate possible. Dr Hewson’s population estimate tells us that the number of UK singing males is currently between 5,095 – 5,983 individuals.
These new statistics mean that since January, the number of people who have spoken out to protect Lodge Hill is almost double the number of breeding male nightingales present in the UK; a very sobering thought.
Thank you to all of you who have stood up to protect Lodge Hill SSSI and its nightingales already, passionate people like you can really make a difference to the fortunes of our most threatened species.
If you haven’t added your voice this year, there is still time. We urge you to do so today.
If you have already completed this year’s e-action, please help us spread the word by sharing the campaign – Lodge Hill and its nightingales need all our voices.
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