Much of the Jersey’s coastal habitat has become degraded during the last few decades due to a lack of active management and changes in agricultural practices. The action of grazing animals, some low-intensity vegetable production and the removal of bracken and gorse for animal bedding and fire had the effect of keeping coastal areas managed and many bird species found this the perfect habitat for breeding and spending the winter months. As those practises have disappeared during the second half of the 20th Century, bracken and scrub vegetation have come to dominate most coastal cliffs and adjacent lands, particularly on the north coast, where the slopes are steep and mechanical management of this habitat is difficult or impossible.
In order to conserve those bird and other plant and animal species that are still found in Jersey and to promote the return of the bird species that have become extinct it is paramount to restore some or all of our Island’s coastland sites to provide the species with their habitat requirements throughout the year: safe nesting sites and feeding grounds for breeding season and winter.
Returning choughs to the Channel Islands
The vision for the restoration ofJersey’s coastal avian biodiversity looks 10 -20 years into the future. The reintroduction of choughs onto Jersey is seen as a potential driving force in achieving this vision and to facilitate this there is a need to manage a captive population that will provide donor stock. Managed at Durrell Wildlife Park in Trinity, a species management plan will focus on the next 5-7 years to establish and maintain a viable population of choughs in captivity, that is of sufficient size to head-start and support a wild population in Jersey. This plan will be monitored and evaluated using measurable indicators.
For the management plan to succeed it needs to meet several objectives.
1) To establish and manage a viable and genetically diverse captive population
2) To provide captive-reared individuals to head start a free-ranging population
in Jersey before 2015
3) To promote public awareness of coastal restoration and farmland ecology through
educational opportunities using the chough as a flagship species
4) To develop research opportunities to maximise understanding of captive-husbandry
and breeding of choughs
5) To develop best practice methods for captive-breeding and reintroduction of social
birds that can be applied elsewhere to future conservation projects
6) To produce a husbandry manual on the management techniques needed to
guarantee successful re-introductions of choughs and related birds elsewhere.