The RSPB has just published a report on the role Britain’s 2,600 golf courses can play in providing sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife, especially in rough and out-of-bounds areas, which account for some 140,000 hectares across the country. Golf has been heavily criticised by green groups for excessive water, pesticide and fertiliser use, but according to the RSPB’s Nigel Symes, “Golf courses may have gained a bad reputation, perhaps not always justified, amongst environmentalists in the past but that is changing.”
“The truth is that every golf course has potential to be a sanctuary for wildlife, and to provide an important stepping stone for birds and other animals whose habitat is under threat. Whilst researching this report we have come across a lot of inspiring examples of golf clubs which are doing really great things for wildlife. We would now like more golf clubs to look at what they can do for skylarks, woodlarks, corn buntings and all kinds of birds. Planting native plants like heather and creating reed beds and hay meadows as well as reducing pesticide and fertiliser use can all make a big difference.”
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The RSPB highlighted Royal Troon golf club in Ayrshire, which has surveyed populations of breeding birds including skylark and linnet, and manages the course around them. Hankley Common in Surrey has rare nightjar, woodlark and Dartford warbler, while several courses in the Highlands are one of the best places to spot the Scottish crossbill, the only bird species unique to Britain.