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Where Geese May Safely Graze

Helping Farmers Helping Geese

RSPB, English Nature and British Sugar have teamed up to provide information for farmers with wintering pink-footed geese on their land. A new advisory leaflet, which advises on how best to manage crops for the benefit of both farmers and geese, is being distributed with the British Sugar Beet Review journal to farmers in areas where over-wintering geese are found. Internationally important numbers of pink-footed geese winter in the UK and more than 100,000 of them come to north Norfolk and The Broads. They feed largely on sugar beet tops left over from harvest, but in such large numbers they can cause damage in winter cereal crops and sometimes un-harvested beet crops. With a little careful management, farmers can avoid crop damage by geese and the leaflet outlines the simple measures that can be taken. Commenting on the publication, Colin Walters, British Sugar says: The UK sugar beet crop provides an important food source for pink-footed geese and the information in this leaflet provides simple guidance on how modern food production and wildlife can happily live alongside one another.

Rob Lucking, RSPB says: We know that many Norfolk farmers are already leaving sugar beet tops out and willingly accommodate the geese on their land. We hope that this leaflet gives the advice farmers need to ensure that they can gain the benefits of undamaged crops whilst at the same time providing geese with a safe and valuable place to feed.

Farmer Edward Cross from Flitcham says: Pink-feet are enjoyed by many people and are one of the few birds for which Norfolk is of global importance. Several farmers are already working to help the geese. I hope the leaflet enables others to join in. We love having the geese on our farm and they are one of the great sights in the long, cold, wet winter months.The pink-footed geese, which will have travelled all the way from Greenland and Iceland, are attracted to north Norfolk and The Broads by the good food and safe roosting sites. Skeins of geese flying off to roost in the evenings provide the area with one of its most spectacular wildlife sights. Ron Harold, English Nature says: Close-quarter encounters with thousands of pink-footed geese and other wildfowl are possible at Lady Ann`s Drive at Holkham from October to March. The geese may be viewed there throughout the day, but spectacular movements of birds happen at daybreak and at dusk.

Copies of the leaflet can be obtained by calling the RSPB on 01603 661662 or English Nature on 01603 598400. For further information contact: Rob Lucking, RSPB Conservation Officer - 01603 660066 or Alex Henry or Chris Durdin, RSPB Public Affairs - 01603 660066 or Ron Harold, Site Manager, Holkham National Nature Reserve English Nature - 01328 711183 or Edward Cross, R S Cross & Son - 01485 600227

4th July 2014