A key fact about the RSPB that’s perhaps less well known is that we’re part of the BirdLife International partnership. In today’s blog, Nick Folkard (who heads up the Project Development and Support team) explains how this partnership works and how you can help it celebrate its 100th birthday.  

A powerful partnership

BirdLife International is a unique network of independent national conservation NGOs that share common goals and have agreed to work together to achieve them. It happens to have its headquarters in Cambridge, close to RSPB HQ in Sandy. But it’s a truly global partnership that’s represented in well over 100 countries worldwide. The RSPB is the UK member of the BirdLife family – and we’re also the largest organisation in the network, supporting many other partners and helping them thrive and grow.

100 years young

BirdLife International was created in 1922, although it had a less snappy name back then – it was the International Council for Bird Preservation or ICBP. This means it’s reaching a very major milestone this year – and to celebrate this it’s holding a special World Congress in Cambridge and London, from 11 to 16 September. The congress will cover all the partnership’s amazing work programmes, and RSPB supporters are most welcome to attend virtually. You can find out more about BirdLife International, the congress and how to register at https://www.birdlife.org/birdlife100/.

Stronger together

Everything that the RSPB does outside the UK involves co-working with local partner organisations – and in most cases these local bodies are our fellow BirdLife partners. (It’s ‘most cases’ not all only because some of the places where we work don’t currently have a BirdLife presence.)

This collaborative approach is very effective both in saving sites and species in the short term and in ensuring that the local partners are strong to look after them in the long term. It combines the experience and resources of the RSPB with the local knowledge and connections of the in-country partners, meaning that we can be ‘more than the sum of our parts’.

One great example of joined-up working by the RSPB and local partners is the Greater Gola Programme in West Africa. This programme involves the BirdLife partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as several other excellent organisations, and is helping to protect rainforest and other vital habitats covering about 350,000 ha in total – or, to put it another way, the area of Cornwall!

Gola -  Photo credit: Guy Shorrock

Another example is the BirdLife International Marine Programme, which is hosted by the RSPB but also involves partners from many other countries around the world. The main aim of this programme is to protect seabirds from threats linked to fishing, and it’s had some stunning successes. For example, seabird deaths caused by fishing lines in one of the fisheries off Namibia have been reduced by an almost unbelievable 98%.

RSPB = BirdLife!

So – next time you’re reading the RSPB magazine or looking at our website, remember that we’re part of a much bigger family. We’re the BirdLife partner in the UK, and as such we’re part of the biggest conservation partnership in the World – and, with your support, we’re working with friends and colleagues to tackle the nature and climate crisis far beyond our national borders.

Black browed albatross - Photo credit: Grahame Madge