In today’s blog we hear from Nigel Symes, Head of Sector Advice at the RSPB. The Sector Advice team provides advice and works in partnership with businesses and sectors to protect and enhance our natural world. 

The nature crisis is real and the impacts are everywhere, and we all have a role to play in fixing it. The RSPB is providing advice to and working in partnerships with those business sectors that can be influential in resolving the crisis.

While nature reserves are really important spaces for conservation and for helping people to connect with the nature around them, they alone cannot solve the nature crisis. Nature needs whole landscapes that create a joined-up network of sites for wildlife to move between. To help provide space for nature beyond nature reserves, the RSPB works with individuals, businesses and institutions that own, control land or influence its management. Working together we develop and showcase ways to integrate wildlife habitats and features with business objectives, and contribute to sustainability through 'nature-based solutions'.

Read on to discover where we’re working and why.

Supporting nature on farmland
The RSPB’s Hope Farm is a commercial farm in Cambridgeshire which is demonstrating that productive farming and nature can co-exist. On the farm, we trial new ways of farming that regenerate soils and encourage wildlife to benefit crop production.

We also engage with farmers to develop and deliver practical solutions to help farmland support more wildlife without compromising its ability to produce crops.

We are part of the Farm Wildlife Partnership that provides farmers with detailed information and advice on practical measures that they can put in place to support wildlife on their land. Visit the Farm Wildlife website to find out more.

Large flock of Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, returning to hedgerow after feeding on the ground, RSPB Hope Farm. © Ben Andrew (

Boosting wildlife on golf courses
There are over 3,000 golf courses in the UK, extending to over 125,000ha and providing enjoyment to an estimated four million golfers.

We are working in partnership with The R&A, the governing body of the game, to boost wildlife on existing golf courses. We do this through providing guidance and developing case studies, as well as working directly with greenkeepers to advise on how they can enhance the golf course for wildlife without compromising how it plays. In so doing, we’re not only benefitting nature, but enhancing sustainability and the golfing experience. Our focus is on enhancing established courses and we do not work on new course development.

Planning new solar developments with nature in mind
Renewable energy is key to sustainably meeting future energy demands. The number and capacity of solar farms is growing rapidly to meet that demand. Although they are occupying a lot of land, and could have a negative impact on wildlife, with good design they can make a real difference providing a range of habitats that benefit wildlife in need.

We’re working with Lightrock Power, who develop new solar sites, helping them to avoid ecologically sensitive land and to design layouts to incorporate habitats into the solar development to benefit important species in the surrounding area.

Restoring quarries for nature
Quarrying can be contentious, but there is no doubt that when extraction is complete, quarries can provide important opportunities for biodiversity through sensitive restoration. Many RSPB nature reserves are former quarries, including one of our first at Dungeness, and at Ouse Fen in Cambridgeshire where our partnership with Hanson, is creating a 700ha wetland.

We work in partnership with CEMEX UK to advise on restoration schemes for their quarries – over 1,500ha of habitats have been created since 2009. We are also working on projects to help important species on their sites – including turtle dove, willow tit, chough and twite.

Meanwhile, our Nature After Minerals programme has helped the industry to design and restore over 3,500ha of habitats to date, and has worked with planning authorities to determine strong policies for restoring quarries to nature.

Quarries offer huge potential to restore nature at scale, providing multiple benefits to society. © Nigel Symes.

Enhancing urban landscapes 
With thousands of hectares of green spaces in urban areas there is a lot of opportunity for biodiversity. We provide advice and training across a number of aspects including green roofs, sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), and park management.

Our partnership with greenspace management company idverde is active in several parts of the UK, making urban spaces more nature friendly and climate resilient.

Meanwhile we work with Barratt Developments plc to design nature friendly landscaping in new developments and have developed an integral nest brick for swifts. And, with the NHBC we have published guidance on biodiversity in new housing.

Creating nature rich housing developments is shown to improve people’s quality of life. © Nigel Symes.

Managing woodland and forests for wildlife
Woodlands in good ecological condition are particularly important for biodiversity, and store large amounts of carbon. With the Woodland Trust, Sylva Foundation and other conservation organisations we developed the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit, an online resource to help managers of woods and forests identify how to integrate priority species’ needs into their management.

More to come
As you can see, we’re working across a wide range of sectors to deliver more for nature. In the coming weeks and months, colleagues working in these different areas will be sharing blogs so that you can find out more about the important and inspiring work that they are doing for nature across the landscape. In the meantime, you can find out more here.

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