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The Co-operative Farms supporting Barn Owls

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The Barn Owl Centre's new 'BARN OWL MANOR'

With help from the Barn Owl Centre, barn owls have received a number of luxury homes at Co-operative farm. Barn owls are being given a lifeline at a farm in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, where The Co-operative Farms has set up a team of “Habitat Heroes” to help preserve the beautiful birds, which are one of the UK’s most iconic species.

The Habitat Heroes project aims to identify where investments and adaptations can be made on six farms across the UK, owned by The Co-operative Farms, to improve the habitats, feeding and breeding opportunities for species like barn owls, and endangered or protected species, including otters, bats and red squirrels, helping to safeguard them for the future.

The farm at Down Ampney has linked up with Gloucestershire’s Barn Owl Centre. The centre has created and erected three super-sized four-foot nesting boxes, called Barn Owl Manors, on the farm. The nesting boxes, which are the first of their kind, stand on six-foot high stilts and their innovative design deters other birds from nesting in them and makes it impossible for foxes to access, thereby increasing the chances of barn owls making them their home. The boxes have been fitted with a high-tech camera system, allowing non-invasive observation of nesting activity.
Vincent Jones from the Barn Owl Centre said: “We have worked hard to create the prefect environment for pairs of owls living on the farm. A number of the unique super-sized nesting boxes that we have created have now been erected on the farm and cameras have been fitted to allow non-invasive filming of any chicks that are born there.”

Down Ampney Farm Manager, James Taylor, is very excited about the barn owl project and says protecting the environment and wildlife on the land it farms is very important to The Co-operative: “As Britain’s biggest farmer we feel we have a responsibility to lead the way environmentally, and I’m delighted that our farm is taking part in this important national initiative.  The Habitat Heroes project taking place at Down Ampney and five other sites across the country gives us the chance to go that bit further and look at ways we can really make our land work for local wildlife.”
Barn owls were chosen after James spotted pairs of barn owls circling the trees at different locations around the farm. Barn owls have declined in numbers over the past 50 years after some of prey-rich habitats in which they thrived shrank. The decline is now being reversed and the population is beginning to increase.

Barn owls mainly live on farmland, where they hunt for small mammals over rough grassland and along field edge, but the recreation of grassland areas on the edges of The Co-operative farmland is increasing the area of land on which they can hunt. The loss of old barns has also depleted the areas available for them to nest in, which is why artificial barn owl boxes are becoming more prevalent.

By launching the national wildlife project, The Co-operative Farms joins environmental campaigners taking direct action to preserve endangered or protected species, in response to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and a continuing concern over a global decline in biodiversity.

The Co-operative Group is funding the project, whilst its farming business has harnessed the support of farm managers, local environmental groups and volunteers to carry out the vital environmental work to improve and sustain the habitats of species that are indigenous to the farms.

Building on the success of its award-winning “From Farm to Fork” scheme, which has welcomed more than 45, 000 schoolchildren to its farms nationwide, The Co-operative Farms will incorporate Habitat Heroes’ activities into The Co-operative’s Green Schools Revolution to encourage schools to take part in eco-friendly activities.  Schools can register to benefit from Green Schools Revolution at 
Protecting the environment and inspiring young people are key elements in the Group’s groundbreaking Ethical Plan launched earlier this year.

The five other Co-operative farms involved in Habitat Heroes Project are Goole in Yorkshire, where water voles have been chosen; bats at Tillington in Herefordshire; otters at Coldham in Cambridgeshire; pollinators such as hoverflies, butterflies and bees at Stoughton in Leicestershire and red squirrels at Blairgowrie in Perthshire.

The farm in Down Ampney grows rapeseed and wheat, as well as producing honey. In 2010, a vineyard was recently planted at the farm, which will eventually produce English wine to be sold in Co-operative food stores. 

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by almost six million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the leading convenience store operator and a major financial services provider, operating both The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider and Britain’s largest farming operation. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies almost 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets, employs more than 110,000 people and has an annual turnover of £13.7bn.

The Co-operative has a long agricultural heritage and has farmed land across the UK since 1896, when the Group bought its first farm to grow potatoes for Co-operative food stores. The “Grown by us” range consists of food and drink either grown by The Co-operative Farms, or made using ingredients grown by the business. Caring for the environment and growing good quality produce remain at the heart of The Co-operative Farms business.

The Co-operative Farms manages more than 50,000 acres of land, which it owns or farms on behalf of other landowners, from the north of Scotland to southern England.

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Other Barn Owl Centre News

30 March 2024
NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT - We have been sponsored by Ronsons - The Gallery. Lye Farm. Lampern Hill Rd. Uley. Glos. GL11 5BT
18 September 2019
Volunteers Wanted
29 April 2018
Supporting both Owls & Evening Tourism - Perfect Match
1 March 2018
Specialised Sanctuary for Captive Bred Owls & Birds of Prey
28 April 2017
The Countess Bathurst joins our charity as Patron
12 October 2016
For more regular news updates click here to find out more
29 June 2016
A 2hr Photography Experience - Weekend Evenings
17 May 2016
The oldest Barn Owl alive?
26 February 2016
Welcome to the re-launch of our long awaited Gloucestershire Owl Project 2016-19
1 January 2016
2016 - ECO Barn Owl Boxes - Well Ventilated plus thermal protected to keep cool during the hottest days
2 January 2015
2015 - Great News for Gloucestershire Barn Owls, Little Owls, Tawny Owls & Kestrels
13 November 2014
Barn Owl Centre helps PTS rescue a Bird of Prey
12 July 2014
TAWNY OWL RELEASE Visit our live Webcam
7 June 2014
21 May 2014
Gloucestershire Wild Barn Owls 2014
10 May 2014
Barn Owl Centre adds 1 new trustee to charity
9 July 2013
Barn Owl Manors now off to Malaysia
12 October 2012
Back to the Wild
19 June 2012
Gloucestershire Environmental Trust supports Barn Owl Centre
10 January 2012
Barn Owl Manors Now Occupied
31 May 2011
The Co-operative Farms supporting Barn Owls
16 January 2011
2 September 2010
Barn Owl Manor - Building for Barn Owls
20 August 2010
Our Activity Centre
6 July 2010
Re-locating a 6 ton Ash Tree for the Owls
17 April 2009
Wild Tawny Owlets brought into Care 2009
27 October 2008
The appearance of an Eagle Owl
9 August 2008
New Arrival to the Centre
19 November 2006
Nest /Roost Boxes for Owls this Winter
23 June 2006
The arrival of a white Little Owl Orphan
28 March 2006
Barn Owl Population Increase for Gloucestershire
7 March 2006
Barn Owl Centre Documentary
6 July 2004
Rescued Little Owl
The Barn Owl Centre is a registered charity dedicated to community education, conservation and bird welfare
Charity. No : 1097410
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