• Why a ‘no deal’ Brexit increases risks to the environment

    Following the comprehensive rejection of the Prime Minister’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement by the UK Parliament last night, and without stronger assurances which would avoid a disorderly Brexit, the risk of leaving the European Union on 29 March without a deal remains. 

    As politicians scrabble around to work out what happens next, I want to outline why the RSPB, and many other environmental NGOs, believe that ‘no…

    • 16 Jan 2019
  • 2019: it’s time to wake up

    One of the benefits of kids growing up is that, if given the chance, they stay in bed.  So, between Christmas and New Year, while my 14 and 11 year old children slept soundly I had the mornings to myself which meant I read “The End of the End of the Earth” by acclaimed author and birder Jonathan Franzen.

    Through this collection of essays, Franzen offers a mix of hope and despair about the state of the planet…

    • 4 Jan 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: a reminder of some good things we've done together

    In case you missed it, because this will definitely be my last blog of 2018 and I have run out of energy/inspiration (!), here is the blog I posted last Friday showcasing RSPB conservation highlights in 2018.  And because the world just keeps on turning, I can now add the positive news about our long running battle to #SaveLodgeHill!

    Enjoy!

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    It has been quite a year.

    The UK vote to leave the European Union…

    • 21 Dec 2018
  • Thoughts on the draft environment bill

    Amidst the political debate/furore/row about our future relationship with the EU, the Westminster government has snuck out an early Christmas present. Yesterday Defra published the draft Environment Bill that the Prime Minister promised earlier in the summer. The Bill sets out how the UK Government intends to fill the governance gap on our exit from the EU and secure the environmental principles in domestic legislation…

    • 20 Dec 2018
  • The Protected Landscapes Challenge: how can they deliver more for nature?

    Yesterday DEFRA closed their call for views on England’s National Parks and AONBs. Kevin Cox, Chair of the RSPB and a resident of Dartmoor National Park, shares our thoughts on the review and our hopes for the future of these protected landscap...
    • 19 Dec 2018
  • #SaveLodgeHill: Not quite saved yet, but a big step forward

    There has been some encouraging news this past week about our attempts to save a crucial site for nightingales, Lodge Hill. My colleague Adrian Thomas has all the details...  Image credit: John Bridges (rspb-images.com) Many of you wi...
    • 18 Dec 2018
  • Back from the brink: a comment on the climate change talks

    After a tough fortnight of negotiations in Poland, my colleague Melanie Coath reflects on what progress has been made in tackling climate change. 

    Finally, two weeks of UN climate change negotiations came to an end late on Saturday evening in Katowice.

    For many of the preceding hours it had felt like a meaningful conclusion was out of reach. While the conference end edged ever closer, progress felt snail-like as consensus…

    • 17 Dec 2018
  • Good news for a Friday: conservation highlights from RSPB in 2018

    It has been quite a year.

    The UK vote to leave the European Union has dominated the political agenda and continues to pose both jeopardy and opportunity for environmental protection.  And while the excitement/turmoil will continue in 2019, some important markers were set in 2018 in terms of…

    …renewed ambition to restore nature in a generation as laid out in the 25 Year Environment Plan launched by the Prime…

    • 14 Dec 2018
  • Fighting the loss of nature on two fronts

    Our Senior Policy Officer, Melanie Coath, is out at the UNFCCC negotiations in Poland. Here she sets out some of the big picture challenges negotiators are facing and RSPB’s efforts to secure a good outcome for ecosystems and the climate.

    It’s just started snowing here in Katowice, Poland, and temperatures outside have plummeted. But there’s a certain diplomatic chill in the air too after a dramatic war of words…

    • 12 Dec 2018
  • Good-ish news for a Friday: first steps taken on the road to 2020

    Amid the excitement/turmoil of this week's debates at Westminster, it is possible to think that Brexit* sucks in all the political oxygen and there is little space for anything else. 

    Yet, globally at least, the wheels of multi-lateralism and cooperation keep turning.  This month there are conferences of the Parties to two international conventions (on biological diversity last week and climate change this week) and…

    • 7 Dec 2018
  • A day in court

    The RSPB does an amazing amount of work with partners across the four countries of the UK, the UK Overseas Territories and internationally for a wide variety of species, habitats and places. In this blog, I try to give a taste of the breadth and diversity of this work. However, over the years I have frequently returned to one particular bird.

    The hen harrier has taken up more blog posts than any other, and for good reason…

    • 5 Dec 2018
  • A message for Defra: how to achieve more for nature by working better together

    There is a common refrain that environmental NGOs should work better together.  I agree, we should – we have much more to do to ensure we punch above our collective weight. 

    What is often missing from any critiques is…

    …the acknowledgement of what we are already are doing together and therefore how we can build on what we have

    …the importance of broader collaboration beyond just environmental NGOs, to…

    • 3 Dec 2018
  • Go Wild with the RSPB and National Lottery this December #ThanksToYou

    Guest blog by Kim Gutteridge, the RSPB's Head of Grants

    Did you know that if you play the National Lottery then you’re helping to save nature every time you buy a ticket?

    National Lottery players raise, on average, £30 million each week for projects all over the country. Nature benefits as part of the 20% of good causes funding that goes to heritage.  What has heritage got do with nature? Well, the UK is…

    • 28 Nov 2018
  • A call for action

    Two and a half years on from the UK vote to leave the European Union, huge differences of opinion still exist about the nature of our future relationship with the EU.  

    While the UK was and remains divided by the referendum, I felt then and still believe that we are united by our love of wildlife – millions of people watch programmes like Blue Planet, Dynasties or the Spring/Auntumn/Winter-watch series, visit nature reserves…

    • 22 Nov 2018
  • Lessons from South Africa: using tax incentives for protected areas and getting a well deserved award

    I was delighted to hear that Candice Stevens (from BirdLife South Africa) and the South African Government have received (as shown in the image below) a Special Commendation in the UNDP‘s inaugural global Pathfinder Award for their unique Fiscal Benefits Project. The award ceremony was held yesterday during  the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (CBD COP 14) in Egypt.

    South Africa is recognised…

    • 19 Nov 2018
  • A comment on the Withdrawal Agreement: how to move from “non-regression” to progression

    On pages 356-360 of the much anticipated and hotly debated Withdrawal Agreement is a section called “Non-regression in the level of environmental protection”.  It is notable for two reasons…

    …it provides meticulous detail on how the four countries of the UK must maintain the environmental principles, access to justice, laws, monitoring, compliance and enforcement arrangements that are currently provided…

    • 16 Nov 2018
  • Good news for a Friday: two RSPB staff members receive prestigious awards

    In October, we received the delightful news that two of our staff had been given prestigious awards.  I thought I should put a spotlight on their success to celebrate their achievements and to say how lucky I am to call them my colleagues.

    Both were winners of a Marsh Award promoted by two different partners.

    Dr Juliet Vickery, our Head of International Research, received the Marsh Award for Ornithology from the BTO at…

    • 2 Nov 2018
  • Thinking big for curlew and all of nature

    I’ve written before about how we sometimes have to make difficult decisions when trying to meet our conservation objectives. I’ve also said that undertaking any kind of predator control is always a last resort and always part of a much wider package of action including influencing the policy and legal framework of land management.

    In the case of the curlew, there is a lot of work to be done. There has been…

    • 31 Oct 2018
  • New research about the scale of mouse predation on seabirds gives greater urgency to the Gough Island Restoration Programme

    For anyone following the tragic story of Gough Island, you’ll know that the island’s unique seabirds are in a dramatic decline and that predation from invasive non-native mice is the primary cause. But until now we haven’t known the true extent of the damage mice are causing.  Below, my colleague Laura Beasley reports on new research highlighting the scale of mouse predation on seabirds.

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    • 22 Oct 2018
  • A reflection on the RSPB AGM

    The RSPB AGM was an uplifting end to a tough week.

    Tragically, two brilliant colleagues – John Lanchbery and Roy Taylor - passed away this week. In very different ways, they personified the best of the RSPB.

    John dedicated his career to securing global action to tackle climate change particularly through reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the loss of tropical forests which was a core part of the landmark Paris…

    • 21 Oct 2018
  • Europe and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: a case for renewal?

    I had one of my increasingly infrequent visits to Brussels today to participate in a very diverse group that is trying to help the European Union (of which the UK remains a member for at least another six months) get to grips with the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were agreed in 2015.

    During the meeting, we were shown research that suggested that not a single country has achieved a high level…

    • 12 Oct 2018
  • Helping farmers in Northern Ireland to help nature

    Northern Ireland has featured heavily in the Brexit negotiations and has proved to be one of the main sticking points for both the EU and the UK in defining our future relationship. As a charity that operates in all four corners of the UK, we believe that Brexit has to work for nature across all of its constituent parts. That is why I was delighted to sign up to the NI E-action which is aimed at ensuring DAERA put the…

    • 9 Oct 2018
  • Stay cool: keep the temperature down for nature

    Today, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its conclusions on what is needed to avoid the worst impacts climate change.  The report reflects the latest climate science from experts around the world.  It was commissioned by the 2015 Paris Agreement which concluded that all countries should work together to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above…

    • 8 Oct 2018
  • Good news for a Friday: things can only get bigger, better and more connected

    For a number of years, Professor Sir John Lawton has been on the road with a slideshow about how to provide more space for nature through landscape scale conservation.  As the champion for more, bigger, better and connected protected areas, he often showed this slide (below) comparing the size of conservation projects and the level of management required in the UK with others around the world.  In his own inimitable style…

    • 5 Oct 2018
  • In praise of BirdLife International

    If I ever get depressed about the state of the world’s wildlife, I remember that we are part of an extraordinary family of organisations dedicated to save wildlife around the world: BirdLife International – the global partnership for nature and people.

    The BirdLife International partnership gives both reassurance and confidence that, even when the pressures on the natural world are so great, together we can…

    • 1 Oct 2018