• Our challenge for the next decade

    I spoke at a conference today on policy developments in biodiversity and species protection.  As we are in the middle of an election campaign, no one was able to offer a government perspective, but it was still useful to catch up with the latest thinking from others.  A long hand version of my mini contribution is shown below.

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    Amidst the white noise surrounding Brexit and the election we seem…

    • 21 Nov 2019
  • News for a Friday: our manifesto for nature

    You may have noticed that we are in the middle of a General Election campaign.

    But this one feels a bit different - not just because it is taking place in autumn/winter but because of the context in which it is taking place.  And I am not talking about the fractious political debate over our future relationship with the European Union.

    The headlines from every news bulletin from the past week demonstrate that we are in the…

    • 15 Nov 2019
  • RSPB review of game bird shooting: an update

    It has been less than two weeks since the Chair of the RSPB’s Council, Kevin Cox, made his announcement about our desire to review our policy on game bird shooting and associated land management.

    There has been a bit of media reaction for example in the Mail and the Telegraph. What’s more, after a BBC Farming Today interview, there was also a rather amusing personal attack on my voice by Jeremy Clarkson in the…

    • 7 Nov 2019
  • Ten things you may have missed from the RSPB’s AGM

    If you were not one of the c400 members that attended our AGM in London on Saturday, this is what you missed…

    1. An announcement from our Chair, Kevin Cox, that we plan to review our policy on game bird shooting and associated land management.
    2. An update on our plans to engage members in tough conversations about diet. Following our review of how the RSPB should respond to the climate crisis, we are determined to…
    • 27 Oct 2019
  • Announcement of review of RSPB policy on gamebird shooting

    At today’s AGM, the Chair of RSPB Council, Kevin Cox, made this announcement.

    There is growing concern about the environmental impact (including for carbon, water and biodiversity) of intensive forms of game bird shooting and associated land management practices.  This includes both driven grouse moor management (which involves shooting our native red grouse) and largescale release of non-native game birds…

    • 26 Oct 2019
  • More on the new Environment Bill

    Here's another guest blog, this time from my colleague Ali Plummer. This analysis was done with the expectation that today would see the second reading of the new Environment Bill. Obviously the Withdrawal Bill has taken precedence but the insight is still timely.

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    As outlined in a previous blog, the UK Government laid its Environment Bill before Parliament last Tuesday. Coming nearly six months after…

    • 22 Oct 2019
  • Unhappy anniversary: Progress on Special Protection Areas across the UK (guest blog by Kate Jennings)

    I am away with the family for a few days over half term, but have lined up a couple of guest blogs this week.  The first is from my colleague Kate Jennings who leads our work on protected areas.

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    Special Protection Areas (SPAs), created under the EU Birds Directive and now enshrined in laws across the UK, protect some of our very best sites for birds across all four countries of the UK, from the Somerset…

    • 21 Oct 2019
  • Environmental implications of the new UK-EU deal

    If you are interested in the environmental implications of the new UK-EU deal which will be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow, please do read this briefing that has been prepared by Greener UK (of which we are a founding member).

    Let's see what tomorrow brings...

    • 18 Oct 2019
  • How best to mark World Chocolate Week

    It was striking that during the Secretary of State’s sweeping speech accompanying the publication of the Environment Bill this week she placed a lot of emphasis on the international leadership role that the UK Government seeks.

    The UK Government is rightly proud of the impact of its Blue Belt programme leading to designation of marine protected areas around its Overseas Territories, it is rightly proud of its Darwin…

    • 16 Oct 2019
  • Initial reaction to new Environment Bill

    I have just emerged from a speech by Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers announcing the publication of a new Environment Bill.

    This comes a fortnight after we published the state of nature report highlighting the ongoing and shocking declines of wildlife across the UK.

    The publication of the Environment Bill is, of course, an important milestone: for the first time we have, after many years campaigning and hard work…

    • 15 Oct 2019
  • An update on the General License and a call for action

    Across all four countries of the UK every wild bird is protected by law, it is illegal to intentionally kill or injury a wild bird, damage eggs or disturb an active nest. In most areas the law is black and white, however there are circumstances where a license can be issued to grant an exemption from this law.

    Which brings up the question, is it ever justified to kill? A big question, but an important one for conservation…

    • 15 Oct 2019
  • An update on the environmental implications of Brexit

    The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that the UK will leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 ‘come what may’, whilst many parliamentarians continue to seek to wrestle back control of Brexit from the UK Government.

    Meanwhile, evidence that a ‘no deal’ or ‘hard Brexit’ would be damaging for the UK’s natural environment continues to mount. 

    I write this acutely aware…

    • 9 Oct 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: how the RSPB is striving to improve its own environmental performance

    With the publication of the new State of Nature report, today seems as good a day as any to provide an update on how the RSPB is improving its own environmental performance.  As I wrote in my recent blog on the RSPB and Climate Change, there is an added urgency to tackle our own ecological footprint and we are determined to up our game.  Here, my colleague Sarah Alsbury (who leads our work in this area) outlines progress…

    • 4 Oct 2019
  • How we should respond to the 2019 State of Nature report

    In 2013, the first State of Nature report was published and it provided, for the first time, a shared evidence about what was happening to wildlife across the UK.  In short, it united the conservation community behind a common UK nature conservation story.

    Today, the third such report has been published this time with an increased partnership of more than 70 wildlife organisations which this time includes the government…

    • 3 Oct 2019
  • Are things changing in Europe?

    I have, for understandable reasons, been a little detached from European Commission politics in recent weeks so I was pleasantly surprised/amazed to read the agenda for Europe by the proposed EC President Ursula von der Leyen.

    This is the single more environmentally coherent statement I have read from any political leader and contrasts remarkably from the one from her predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker whose own agenda triggered…

    • 1 Oct 2019
  • How the RSPB’s role and response to the climate change crisis will change

    It has been quite a week - starting with four million people (young and old) taking to the streets as part of the Global Climate Strike last Friday and followed up with a week of campaigning action. 

    As the youth strike for climate continues today, politicians at Westminster are stuck in the increasingly toxic Brexit vortex and global leaders fail to come up with a convincing response to the brilliant and passionate appeal…

    • 27 Sep 2019
  • Demanding action for our future

    On 20th September, the world will pause for the global youth and earth climate strikes. We want to support young people all over the country and around the world who are calling for urgent climate action. At the RSPB we are encouraging our staff, volunteers and members to take part too, in whatever way suits them best: joining peaceful climate protests, running climate-themed activities with the public on our reserves,…

    • 18 Sep 2019
  • 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.

    Earlier…

    • 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