• Good news and a first for a Friday: the RSPB acquires land on one of the UK’s Overseas Territories

    I am delighted to report an important milestone in the history of the RSPB.  We have now acquired our first bit of land on one of the UK Overseas Territories - the Cayman Islands.  This land will be leased to our partner, the National Trust of the Cayman Islands, and be incorporated into their own reserve. 

    Below, I explain the rationale but first, I thought it would be timely to provide some historical context.


    • 13 Sep 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: major boost for Celtic Rainforest restoration (thanks in part to EU LIFE funding)

    Visiting North Wales is always special, and yesterday I enjoyed it in the company of colleagues from organisations with whom we have big plans to restore nature.  If I'd been on the right train to Bangor I might have had sunset views of the rugged coast that is so special for seabirds and choughs, and a glimpse into the mountains where ring ouzels are preparing for departure to North Africa.  Alas previous events in…

    • 6 Sep 2019
  • A comment on the likely and untimely death of the Agriculture Bill

    It was good to see a number of MPs and Peers at our annual Westminster parliamentary reception yesterday.  I hope that the scones we offered provided sustenance to help them through a long evening of voting and debate. 

    We need politicians to be at their best in the next few days and weeks to find a way safely through the Brexit impasse especially avoiding a No Deal Brexit which creates extreme jeopardy for the environment…

    • 5 Sep 2019
  • A comment on the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

    Today’s new report by the IPCC is the most comprehensive scientific assessment of the relationship between climate change and land. Governments have spent the last week negotiating the contents of the summary for policymakers, which will set the scene for climate action in landscapes around the world for years to come.

    Humans exploit 72% of the ice-free land surface globally. We are therefore directly responsible…

    • 8 Aug 2019
  • Why we need a review of driven grouse moor management in England

    You may have seen the blog summarising hen harrier breeding success in England explaining how the Hen Harrier LIFE project team have been involved in protecting and monitoring nine successful hen harrier nests in England this year, with the successful fledging of 33 chicks.

    This is the result of a lot of hard work from a huge number of organisations and committed individuals.  Yet, this good news is tempered by knowledge…

    • 6 Aug 2019
  • A new chapter?

    I had just arrived in Durham for the first day of the RSPB’s (excellent) reserves’ conference when I heard two bits of significant and related news. 

    First, Defra announced more detail about the proposed Environment Bill and responses to six consultations including some firm positions on various issues including net gain and conservation covenants. 

    And then, within the hour, it was confirmed that Boris Johnson…

    • 24 Jul 2019
  • Views for a Friday: about proposed Environment Bill and the future management of grouse moors

    Tuesday was a hot day.

    In a wide-ranging speech delivered in the Nash Conservatory at Kew Gardens this week, the still Environment Secretary Michael Gove outlined what we could expect in the promised and much-needed the Environment Bill.   It included much of what we (including all those that took part in last month’s Time is Now mass lobby) have been calling for including a legally binding commitment to wildlife recovery…

    • 19 Jul 2019
  • A transformation of the food system - for people and nature

    Today's a busy day.

    Later this morning, Michael Gove is giving a speech about his upcoming Environment Bill and what he wants to see in it. This is an important moment and we will be giving the content close scrutiny to see if it matches previous positive rhetoric.

    This evening, the RSPB will be hosting a panel debate in Westminster on the future of driven grouse moors. How can grouse moor management change in order…

    • 15 Jul 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: two long-term conservation projects reap the reward for wildlife and people

    The size of the conservation challenge can be daunting: a growing list of species threatened with extinction, wildlife sites in trouble and the pressures on nature intensifying.

    This is why I remain a fan of earth/conservation optimism to demonstrate that we have made progress to improve the natural world - inspiring confidence that we have what it takes to save nature even if it takes one species and one site at a time…

    • 12 Jul 2019
  • Seventy years on, can National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty lead the fight to save nature?

    Guest blog by David Hampson from the RSPB's Site Conservation Policy Team

    Seventy years on from the legislation that paved the way for the creation of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England and Wales, two important things are happening this week. Landscapes for Life (the National Association of AONBs) is holding a conference where they will be considering how these protected landscapes…

    • 10 Jul 2019
  • The conservationist's dilemma: an update on the science, policy and practice of the impact of predators on wild birds (6)

    Conservation is often about making tough decisions about when to intervene and when not to.  Sometimes - as is the case for vertebrate control - these decisions can be controversial.  In the end, decisions we take are judged by the outcomes we achieve.

    Let me give you an example from a site which I last visited in November to give a fond farewell to our much-loved and charismatic colleague, Roy Taylor who passed away last…

    • 10 Jul 2019
  • Association between gamebird releases and generalist predators.

    Credit: Ben Andrew (RSPB-images.com)

    More than 40 million gamebirds (pheasants and red-legged partridge) are reared and released into the UK countryside each year for recreational shooting, a tenfold increase since the 1970s. There are increasing concerns over the environmental impacts of continuing this practice and at such levels, and crucial new research from the BTO shows these concerns to be well founded.   


    • 2 Jul 2019
  • Why illegal killing of birds of prey must continue to shock

    I fear that ongoing criminality in our uplands is now accepted as a norm and even tolerated by some.

    For many years, the RSPB report hen harriers which have disappeared over grouse moors under suspicious circumstances, never to be heard of again. Scientific and government reports continue to highlight the link between grouse moors and the illegal killing of hen harriers and other raptors. Only in March this paper revealed…

    • 1 Jul 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: civil society demands action for nature, for the climate and for people

    Something brilliant happened this week.

    On Wednesday, more than 12,000 people travelled to London to take part in the Time is Now lobby of Parliament organised by members of The Climate Coalition and Greener UK.  In total, more than 300 MPs from all parts of the UK received the message that the time is now to act to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.     

    The halls of parliament were packed while the roads leading…

    • 28 Jun 2019
  • An update on brood management

    Regular readers of this blog may remember that in March, we received the disappointing news that we’d lost our legal challenge against Natural England’s decision to grant licenses to trial brood management of hen harriers. We believe the presiding judge Mrs Justice Lang erred and have since applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. If this is granted, we would expect to return to court before…

    • 27 Jun 2019
  • Preventing extinction: a test of leadership

    The big five were on show in Kent on Friday. 

    Sitting eating excellent cheese and pickle sandwiches, I saw wood pigeon, stock dove, collared dove, feral pigeon and… turtle dove! 

    Lovely image of turtle dove courtesy of young Kent birder, Jack Farrar

    All were feeding on a plot of land next the garden of a local resident, David Burridge, who had erected a hide to keep an eye on the local turtle dove population which…

    • 24 Jun 2019
  • What net zero means for ecosystems

    Last week the UK Government made the welcome announcement that it has set a target of net zero emissions, to be enshrined in law. This is a big step forward in the ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and the focus is now shifting to how that ambition can be secured. How can we ensure nature plays a critical role in climate change mitigation in a way that secures benefits for the climate and for biodiversity?…

    • 21 Jun 2019
  • The Halvergate Marshes Freshwater Project: working for farmers, wildlife and the climate

    Friday was a very good day.

    I was in the Broads helping to celebrate the launch of the Halvergate Marshes Freshwater Project.  The weather was kind and it was great opportunity to see the potential of a new £2m scheme designed to keep get more freshwater onto the second largest area of wet grassland in the UK (behind the Somerset Levels) .  This is one of those projects that demonstrate what can be achieved when people…

    • 16 Jun 2019
  • Another update on General Licenses

    Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the situation that has developed over the last couple of months concerning General Licences, which I have blogged about here, here and here. There has been a further development so here is an update as to what has happened and what we think about the news.

    After a drawn out and a poorly handled process Defra has finally issued three new General Licences to directly replace…

    • 13 Jun 2019
  • Protection of Dogger Bank traded away to bottom trawling (guest blog by Dr Euan Dunn)

    There is growing political consensus that we face an ecological and climate emergency.  This is the lens through which we should assess every decision governments make.  Below, my colleague Dr Euan Dunn (who leads our work on fisheries) puts the spotlight on one action that runs counter to ambitions to restore nature in a generation and what is being done about it. 


    The EU legislation obliges…

    • 13 Jun 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: helping to stop the rot, protect the best and restore the rest

    This week, three stories illustrate the continued work that the RSPB is doing to stop the rot, protect the best and restore the rest.  All these projects have been done in partnership and are the result of years of planning, expertise and dedication. 

    First, we reported that the RSPB had used its first loan of £710,000 from Triodos Bank to install renewable energy technology (solar panels and a biomass boiler) on…

    • 7 Jun 2019
  • Our best places for nature are also important carbon stores – we need to look after them

    Our scientists have an excellent track record in finding solutions to 21st century conservation problems and today we publish new information which could help tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.  

    Our "carbon in nature rich areas" story map highlights that the best places for nature across the UK also hold massive amounts of carbon. If lost to the atmosphere, this carbon would equate…

    • 5 Jun 2019
  • New Marine Conservation Zones: our reaction

    Guest blog by Gareth Cunningham, RSPB Head of Nature Policy.

    Britain is home to over 8 million seabirds and holds globally important populations of species such as puffins, Manx shearwaters and gannets, its waters providing rich feeding grounds for their hungry chicks. Back in 2016 we called on the UK Government to protect some of England’s most important areas for seabirds.

    Today, Environment Secretary Michael Gove…

    • 31 May 2019
  • On a Cliff Edge

    A guest blog from Gareth Cunningham, the RSPB's Head of Nature Policy.

    On the 9th of May, the UK’s four administrations published their joint report on progress towards their shared ambition of achieving “clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse oceans and seas”, a laudable goal they have been working towards since 2012.

    However, the results of the last 6 years, summarised here, demonstrate…

    • 23 May 2019
  • Why the European Parliament elections matter for nature

    This week, over 350 million citizens from across Europe will have the chance to go to the polls to elect the next European Parliament. Much to everyone's surprise, the UK will take part in this election.  This is because Theresa May secured an extension to the terms of Article 50.  That said, it is currently uncertain if, and for how long, newly elected UK MEPs will be present in the European Parliament.

    Whatever you…

    • 20 May 2019