How new science should affect the application of protection measures for UK estuarine shorebirds
Authors: Goss-Custard, J.D. and Stillman, R.A.
Using data primarily from the Exe estuary in Devon, England, we argue that the current regulations for UK Special Protection Areas fail to take into account a number of important realities about the attributes of estuaries that influence the ability of a site to support the number of shorebirds for which the site was designated. We argue that the effect of these omissions, and the ways in which the regulations have been implemented, has been to exaggerate the impact on the birds that many proposals, if carried out, would actually have. This leads to skepticism, even cynicism, in the minds of an unconvinced public that has been affected by decisions based on arguments they see as inconsistent with experience and common sense. The main omissions in the regulations are: (i) to consider the attributes of habitat quality and extent, disturbance and predation individually rather than considering their combined, net contribution to ensuring the favourable status of the site; (ii) to ignore completely the attribute of the time available for foraging, and (iii) to not allow for birds to habituate to the presence of people.