• RSPB response to the General License consultation

    As a user of the General Licence, we took the decision some years ago to be open about the RSPB's occasional use of lethal control for some species and the reasons we sometimes find it necessary to carry this work out (for example see here).

    I reported at the beginning of the month, that Defra had issued a call for evidence about how the General License should operate in the future. In the interests of continuing transparency…

    • 17 May 2019
  • A comment on the 25 Year Environment Plan Progress Report (guest blog by Jess Chappell)

    Yesterday UK Government published the first report on progress made in delivering their 25 Year Environment Plan. The Plan, published in January 2018, sets out how Government intend to achieve their ambition to pass on a healthier environment to the next generation. Today’s report, which you can read in full here, describes how well they’re doing one year on.  Below, I have asked my colleague, Jess Chappell…

    • 17 May 2019
  • Why we need transformative change to avoid the impending environmental disaster

    Today sees the release of the largest and most comprehensive attempt to assess the state of our living planet and humanity’s place in it. At its launch in France, governments and scientists have come together to agree that we are exploiting nature faster than it can renew itself. By its very nature it is a detailed and complex document, but at its heart the message is simple.

    We are changing our planet beyond recognition…

    • 6 May 2019
  • A comment on the letters exchanged between Tony Juniper and Michael Gove about General Licensing decision-making powers

    This morning, Defra has published an exchange of letters between the new chair of Natural England and Environment Secretary Michael Gove regarding the General License.  In short, Mr Gove will take control of General License decision-making for now and he has issued a call for evidence to review how the General License should operate in the future.

    We shall clearly engage with this review.  But I have two immediate thoughts…

    • 4 May 2019
  • A comment on the Committee on Climate Change advice on long term targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions

    Today, the Committee on Climate Change publishes its advice to the governments across the UK on the long-term targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the UK’s transition to a net zero-carbon economy.  Below, my colleague Melanie Coath (who is the RSPB lead on climate change policy) offers her verdict on the report.  At the end, I outline how the RSPB is responding.



    • 2 May 2019
  • A comment on the fallout from Natural England’s decision to change wildlife licensing rules

    Like everyone, I was surprised by Natural England’s decision to revoke the General Licence at such short notice after the legal proceedings by Wild Justice. The following media and online frenzy has thrown up so much misinformation and inaccuracies that it is hard for those not immersed in this stuff to really know what’s going on.

    As you probably know, the RSPB uses the general licence. We are upfront and open…

    • 1 May 2019
  • Nightingales in Berkeley Square

    This evening Berkeley Square in London will once again be filled with the song of the nightingale. 

    In homage to much covered song ‘A nightingale sang in Berkley Square’, a partnership between folk musician Sam Lee’s Nest Collective and Extinction Rebellion aims to re-wild Berkeley Square and play nightingale song.

    This unusual rewilding aims to highlight the plight of nightingales which have decreased…

    • 29 Apr 2019
  • New power brings a noisy spring

    We live in amazing times. 

    In the week of mass demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion in London, the incredible life-force that is Greta Thunberg gave her blunt assessment of the UK’s track record on tackling climate change (“beyond absurd”) and laid a gauntlet to build climate change thinking into all parts of decision-making.

    Her own Friday-school strike was the catalyst for an estimated 1.6 million…

    • 26 Apr 2019
  • Two bits of good news for a Friday: for sand martins and for RSPB reserves

    A week is a long time in Norfolk.  

    There was a public outcry when a video appeared last Friday of a sand martin returning from migration and failing to access a nesting burrow because nets had been laid over a 1.3km stretch of Bacton cliffs on the Norfolk coast.  This was just one example of hundreds of images and videos of netting that have been shared this spring.  It has led to two petitions on the Number 10 website, an int…

    • 12 Apr 2019
  • Rebirding: a new agenda to drive nature’s recovery?

    There is a new book out tomorrow that captures the current zeitgeist to drive nature’s recovery.

    It’s called Rebirding and it is written by wildlife television field director, conservation writer and lifelong birder Ben MacDonald.

    It is a beautifully written, thoughtful and, yes, provocative book.

    First documenting and diagnosing the decline of our wild birds, Ben then offers an ambitious and alternative…

    • 7 Apr 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: together, we can let nature sing

    @Nicky13Johnson posted this delightful tweet yesterday accompanied by a video of a robin singing:

    If you could listen to just one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?  I choose birdsong.”

    I know that Nicky is not alone. 

    Today, we report that almost half a million people across the UK took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this year counting more than 7.5 million birds in total.  House…

    • 5 Apr 2019
  • Climate solutions, naturally

    I am an unapologetic optimist, but it can be hard to be upbeat with the current political turmoil and intensely challenging messages on climate change, plastic pollution and “insectmageddon”.

    Amid the gloom, we need reasons to be cheerful, so I’m delighted to have one to share with you today: an exciting global call to action for Natural Climate Solutions.

    I know, more jargon, but Natural Climate Solutions…

    • 3 Apr 2019
  • Good news of a Friday: floating an idea for a different future for offshore wind energy

    When the RSPB launched its Energy Futures report in 2016, we offered a vision for how we could tackle climate change by driving the much needed energy revolution in harmony with nature. 

    We demonstrated that it was possible to generate up to four times the UK’s current energy consumption through low ecological risk renewables.  What’s more, we offered three scenarios as to how this could be achieved including what…

    • 29 Mar 2019
  • An update on the RSPB’s legal challenge of Natural England’s decision to grant licenses to trial brood management of hen harriers

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the disappointing news that we had lost our legal challenge of Natural England’s decision to issue licences to trial the so-called brood management scheme for hen harriers. I said then that we would take time to assess the judgement before determining next steps.

    As a charity, we need to weigh up the pros and cons of any course of action and make sure that we are using our funds…

    • 27 Mar 2019
  • 15 years

    I was reminded this week, via the curious medium of LinkedIn, that I have now been at the RSPB for 15 years.  My mind went immediately went back to March 2004 and I reflected on what’s changed and what has, for better or worse, stayed the same.

    Back then, I had no children, lived in London, was enjoying watching my football team become invincible* and had just bid fond farewell to my former employer, Plantlife International…

    • 21 Mar 2019
  • Reaction to the judgement on our legal challenge against Natural England’s decision to grant licenses to trial brood management of hen harriers

    This morning Mrs Justice Lang handed down her judgment on the legal challenges that the RSPB and Dr Mark Avery had taken against Natural England and the decision to issue licences to trial the so-called brood management scheme for hen harriers.

    I’m sorry to say that the ruling was not in our favour - we lost the case.

    This is bitterly disappointing for all those who have worked tirelessly on this case and for all…

    • 14 Mar 2019
  • A comment on the environmental credentials of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement

    Amid the political maelstrom surrounding Brexit this week, Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered a Spring Statement today which gave us grounds for cautious optimism.

    As I commented previously, even with existing levels of protection and funding we have failed to halt the loss of biodiversity, let alone made a serious progress with its recovery.  Even the UK Government’s own (slightly rose-tinted)…

    • 13 Mar 2019
  • The Time Is Now

    Sometimes it only takes one person to change the course of history.

    Just look at Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who hit the news recently because of her climate strikes. It started in August last year when Greta sat outside Swedish Parliament every school day for three weeks in protest at Sweden’s lack of progress on tackling climate change. In September she vowed to strike every Friday until Swedish policies…

    • 10 Mar 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: a round up of this week’s news

    Here are few things you may have missed if you have been a bit busy or distracted this week…

    …the new “Sector Deal” partnership announced yesterday between the UK Government and the offshore wind sector is a big deal.  It signals the latest steps towards a low carbon future with the promise of a tripling of the amount of energy generated by offshore wind farms by 2030.  For nearly two decades,…

    • 8 Mar 2019
  • Love Minsmere? Tell EDF to protect it

    The RSPB's Regional Director for Eastern England, Jeff Knott, explains what it will take to ensure one of the UK’s most important sites for nature is protected from harm as EDF Energy look to build Sizewell C next door.

    On Monday 25 February,  EDF Energy issued a statement setting out how they propose to address the potential for Sizewell C nuclear power plant to have a significant negative impact on neighbouri…

    • 7 Mar 2019
  • Bird Therapy: guest blog by Joe Harkness

    Joe Harkness has been writing his Bird Therapy blog for the last three years. He has written for Birdwatch magazine, The Curlew and the i newspaper, amongst others. Joe also speaks about his experiences and has recorded three ‘tweets of the day’ for BBC Radio 4. He works as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator and has worked with vulnerable groups for nine years. He lives in Norfolk.


    Six years ago, I…

    • 5 Mar 2019
  • Helping nature's clean-up crew

    Vultures are in trouble. My colleague Lizzie Bruce explains what the problem is and what she's doing to help

    Do you remember the BBC series Dynasties? Do you remember watching the young lion and its aunt die from eating a poisoned carcass? I do. I cried. I wanted to do something about it.

    The lions filmed were from Kenya. Poisoned carcasses left out by local farmers to protect their grazing animals. Yet these poisoned…

    • 3 Mar 2019
  • Why close co-operation with the European Union is safer for nature

    Birds and other migratory wildlife do not respect borders, and the challenges facing nature are too big to be solved by any one country alone. Ever since tackling the global plumage trade in the nineteenth century, the RSPB has been committed to comprehensive international agreements for nature conservation.  

    For example, here in the temperate latitudes of the northern hemisphere, around half of our bird species migrate…

    • 18 Feb 2019
  • Good news for a Friday: there is some!

    Here is some good news that you may missed...

    ...an assessment compiled by the Web of Science has shown that three NGOs (BirdLife International, BTO and the RSPB) are in the top 6 of UK institutions that undertake the highest impact research on biodiversity conservation.  That is why, in a letter in Nature published this week, the top scientists from BirdLife International, RSPB and BTO suggest that "NERC could better…

    • 15 Feb 2019
  • Tomorrow's storm predicted today

    Whilst looking at twitter on Sunday evening I saw this amazing tweet from New Zealand.  The sheer number of moths involved reminded me of the ‘moth snowstorm’ that environmental journalist Mike McCarthy described in his wonderful book of the very same name. A sight that no longer occurs in the UK. A thing of the past.

    So, it was sobering to see Monday’s Guardian front page carry the story about ‘insect-ageddon…

    • 12 Feb 2019