MANY of the UK's most threatened and rapidly declining bird species are increasingly reliant on a network of nature reserves, according to an RSPB report out yesterday.
It claims the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' landholdings are vital for conservation as, collectively, they hold more than one in 20 breeding pairs of 40 bird species particularly at risk in the UK.
More than one-third of all the UK's breeding bitterns, roseate terns and black-tailed godwits nest on RSPB land, specially managed to benefit them.
Gareth Thomas, the RSPB head of conservation management, said: "Most species on our reserves are either stable or are significantly increasing their populations.
"For example, more lapwings and redshanks are nesting on our land every year, which is in stark contrast to the dramatic national decline of these two species.
"Without the protection of RSPB nature reserves, many species of bird and other wildlife would be even more endangered than they are today.
"Our nature reserve network contains some of the UK's most threatened and precious habitats.
"Caledonian pine forests, saltmarshes and seasonally-flooded grasslands. All of these scarce habitats support species which are of conservation concern in the UK. …