Visit the Working for Waders Initiative website for details of collaborative action to reverse the decline in waders that has developed from the Understanding Predation Project.


Understanding Predation Report - a review bringing together natural science and local knowledge of recent wild bird population changes and their drivers in Scotland

The Understanding Predation Report was launched on Monday 8th February by the Minister for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, MSP, at Scottish Natural Heritage's Battleby Conference Centre, in front of 60 delegates drawn from a wide range of organisations.

The Understanding Predation project was established to develop a basis for a common understanding between scientists, conservationists and those who work the land.  Importantly, stakeholders agreed that urgent action was needed to stop these population declines. Stakeholders valued the collaborative process adopted by the project, and the opportunities it provided for many diverse voices to be heard. The study recommends developing an adaptive, collaborative approach, linking scientific evidence gathering and stakeholders’ knowledge, to guide the development of management practices.

The report found strong support from survey data and stakeholders’ knowledge that all six wild birds studied in detail (black grouse, curlew, golden plover, grey partridge, lapwing and oystercatcher) had shown widespread declines across Scotland since the 1960s.

The Project was commissioned by Scottish Government, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, managed by Scotland's Moorland Forum and led by an independent and impartial Research Group from British Trust for Ornithology (Scotland), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Stirling.

An Introduction to the Project Report

The Report comprises a 5-page 'Executive Summary', a 45-page ‘Summary Report’, a 270-page ‘Supplementary Material’ section, and a further 47-pages of Appendices.

The Summary Report provides all the main findings of the report, with minimal explanation and supporting information. However, it contains direct links (which can be accessed by clicking on them while pressing ‘Ctrl’ on your keyboard) to corresponding sections of the Supplementary Material, which includes citations to source literature. This structure is designed to give readers an overview of the project and its findings, while also allowing them to quickly access more technical and comprehensive information, if they wish to.

Please note that there is a shortcut within Windows and on a Mac that allows you to return to a previous section after following one of these hyperlinks in a PDF document: this is 'Alt+left arrow' on Windows, and 'Command+left arrow (or [ )' on a Mac.

The bibliography and a copy of the Questionnaire are available as separate PDF documents.

The raw data on abundance change of bird populations, used in Section 4 of the report, is available on request (see Appendices for details).


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For those who just want to read the Executive Summary and the Summary Report, a separate version of the Report has been produced that just contains these sections; the links to the Supplementary Material have been removed.  This version is best for printing.

Click here for the Summary Report only.

You are invited to visit and comment on the Project Blog.


Documents relating to the development of the project can be accessed here.