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Birds: Conservation

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 65, tabled on 27 May 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to improve the habitat of bitterns.

Answered on

2 June 2015

Like all wild birds, the bittern is protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Under this Act it is an offence to kill or injure any wild bird; take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built; and take or destroy an egg of any wild bird.

Bittern habitat is also protected and improved through being designated and managed as Special Protection Areas under the EU Habitats Directive, and as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

In 1994 Natural England (then English Nature) initiated a Bittern Recovery Programme. By 2012 restoration of approximately 2500 hectares of bittern reed-bed habitat at 80 sites across the UK had been achieved. This resulted in an increase of bittern numbers, from a 1997 low of 11 males to a high of 140 males in 2014.