On Thursday evening I took part in an event in Ely where the RSPB laid out our Fens Futurescapes plans to a room full of farmers and others. It was also by way of a big 'thank you' to farmers with whom we have been working in the Fens for years on farmland bird recovery projects.
It was nice to see the event and the project covered very positively in Farmers' Guardian and Farmers' Weekly.
Several farmers on the night came and thanked me for the help of local RSPB staff in filling in forms (at no charge) which led to HLS agreements coming their way and for the RSPB's campaign over the summer to protect agri-environment funding from potential government cuts. It was very easy to 'love these farmers to bits' - because they are 'stepping up for nature'.
This was the type of event that cheers me up. I had a stinking cold, had been late to bed the night before, early up that morning and had an almost 2 hour drive home from Ely in front of me - but as I left I was buoyed up by the warmth of the farmers in the audience and the obviously good working relationships that we have with them.
The Fens are special - big skies and open landscapes. Together we can fill the air with the sound of buzzing bumblebees and singing skylarks - we can turn up the volume on the Fenland Futurescape.
Notice that some farmers are ploughing close to hedges again and wonder if scheme has changed values or have farmers realised they have a very very limited benefit to wildlife,really hope they can be persuaded to sow a small area of bird seed area in each parish or similar,perhaps even RSPB could push for something like that in HLS or perhaps they already do,if so well done.This is definitely one way of providing food for small birds over the winter,perhaps replacing the old practice of some stubbles being left over winter simply because the horses or later the smaller tractor ploughs just simply did not have the capacity to get round to doing it.
Agree completely Mark it is good that we are close perhaps even on most things,and from one of your old comments it shows how discussion gives a chance to understand other views.
Thanks Bob and having read that I think both sides must be a bit prickly me included interpreting things a little incorrectly but if both sides continue doing things for wildlife whether it be N F U or individual farmers then even though it will be a long hard slog before we see big improvements at least if we halt the decline and get small improvements in wildlife think the RSPB can take a lot of credit.
Tony Whitehead has just put an entry on the RSPB South West blog. Well written and a very good summary of where the RSPB is with supporting farmers (and vice versa).
mirlo - to accuse someone of double standards you really do need to have very good knowledge of what they have said and done - it's an accusation of bad faith and shouldn't be done lightly. I pointed you to a previous mention in this blog (on which you commented) to remind you that we are aware of this issue and also told you that it was an issue discussed in Ely last week. In addition, the RSPB commissioned a report on this very subject www.rspb.org.uk/.../fenpeat.aspx
Sooty - we are pretty close on this now. That's good.
Well more or less completely agree Mark and on reflection as you say a larger % of farmers should be wildlife friendly than the general public.My personal wish would be that by persuasion and getting farmers more interested in wildlife rather than seeing it as financial gain things improved as whatever it is you always get better results from interested people than from doing it to rules but of course you do need some financial incentive.My guess is as well that each individual thinks that the small part they can play is insignificant whether improving or destroying just as say general public a lot think the same about such things as energy saving.Think it is all about getting the information across and certainly agree the N F U could if so minded do this easier than anyone.
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