• Gobble your breakfast and benefit biodiversity

    This week I am looking at the role that business can play in protecting the planet.

    But for a business to remain in business, they do need consumers to buy their products or services.  And that means we all have a role to play. 

    Even at breakfast. 

    Because if you start your day with Jordan's cereal and a couple of slices of toast made from Allinson Bread, you'll be helping wildlife from the comfort of your kitchen…

    • 31 Jan 2012
  • The nature of business

    Recent talk about ‘responsible capitalism’ has tended to focus on issues of equity and social justice. Yet business also has a responsibility to the environment. 

    This week, I want to explore where business can step up to do more for nature.

    Many multinationals, and some large domestic businesses, have global reach.  They connect people with nature in many different ways – through their supply chains and products…

    • 30 Jan 2012
  • Big Garden Birdwatch Cambridge style

    I was happy with the morning’s work.

    Despite the mist, the five kids and I were relatively happy with our nine species: blue tit (3), chaffinch (2), collared dove (2), robin (1), dunnock (1), house sparrow (1), carrion crow (1), woodpigeon (2) and blackbird (1).

    We were a little short on previous years.  There may have been more (species, not kids), but we had to cope with various distractions.  A lego version of…

    • 29 Jan 2012
  • Something for the weekend?

    The weather is terrible, the economy is in a mess, which means we all need something to bring cheer this weekend.

    Here's my top tip: why not make yourself a cup of tea, sit down and count the birds in your garden for an hour.

    If you want to be really indulgent, you could do this while listening to Sir David Attenborough's Desert Island Discs on Sunday.  What could be better - watching wildlife while listening…

    • 27 Jan 2012
  • Still guilty

    Seven months ago, I blogged here that a Derbyshire gamekeeper, Glenn Brown, had been found guilty of attempting to illegally trap and kill birds of prey.  

    What I failed to report was that the gamekeeper later appealed this decision.  However, yesterday, we heard that he lost his appeal and the Judge upheld his sentence of 100 hours community service while increasing his costs from £10,000 to £17,000.

    I am…

    • 25 Jan 2012
  • Nature - it's here to help

    Sometimes you just need space to think.

    If Transport Secretary Justine Greening needs a little time to reflect on the big decisions that she needs to make about the UK's future aviation capacity, she should go for a walk in a flower-rich meadow.  Last week I was reminded of a paper by Sheffield scientists and published here.  They concluded that psychological benefits increase with species richness ie the more species…

    • 24 Jan 2012
  • Another airport? Questions that need answering.

    In my article in the Guardian on Friday I argued that this Government should tirelessly pursue ways to decouple economic growth from environmental harm. I suggested that this would help show the rest of the world that it is possible to maintain current standards of living without destroying the things many of us hold so dear.

    The forthcoming consultation on ways to maintain the UK's status as an international hub for…

    • 23 Jan 2012
  • Airport plan is plane crazy - part 2

    I mused yesterday on the scale of public support for an airport in the Thames estuary.  While no direct indication of public reaction, it is always instructive to observe the media response and here it is...

    The Times is generally taking the stance that Britain needs a new airport, whatever the consequences.  It suggests that Heathrow’s 3rd terminal was only avoided as an election ploy for west London voters.  Now…

    • 20 Jan 2012
  • Airport plan is plane crazy

    It's all beginning to feel a bit familiar. Yesterday I woke up with another cold to hear reports that the Government is set to include the option of a new airport in the Thames Estuary as part of a consultation on the future of aviation in the UK.

    Although deeply depressing, this isn't really a surprise. The Chancellor's Autumn economic statement said that the Government intended to look into all the options for…

    • 19 Jan 2012
  • Kangoo – can do! Our first electric vehicle

    Getting a new car was a traumatic experience for me so I decided to do it quickly by asking my four year old daughter to choose which car to buy. I think she did a good job. For others, buying a new car is pretty exciting, and it is especially so today for the RSPB because we get delivery of our first electric vehicle.

    It’s great to be spearheading a new environmental revolution in motoring. Most of us cannot envisage…

    • 18 Jan 2012
  • Hidden jewels

    One publication that appeared with almost no fanfare on Defra’s website yesterday was the Department’s new paper on how it intends to discharge its responsibility towards the UK Overseas Territories (OTs). These 14 Territories, scattered right across the globe, are home to some of the UK’s most internationally important wildlife, including one third of the world’s breeding albatross and the largest coral atoll…

    • 17 Jan 2012
  • "Let's take Member States to court...

    ...if they fail to comply with European regulations".  That was the message from the Prime Minister in the second part of his interview with John Craven on Countryfile last night.  If you missed it, you can watch it again here.  He was talking at the time about animal welfare standards.  I wonder if he feels the same about those Member States that have yet to establish a comprehensive network of protected in the marine…

    • 16 Jan 2012
  • I'm not superstitious but...

    ...yes I do always salute magpies.  I have to otherwise who knows what dreadful thing might happen.

    And today it's Friday 13th, so, please be careful at home, at work and with your Friday night planning.  And be extra careful if you bump into any of our much maligned corvid species. 

    Crows, ravens and magpies have played a significant role in the folklore, superstition, and mythology of humans for many years, with…

    • 13 Jan 2012
  • Migrants in Africa

    Today the RSPB’s  team studying ‘our’ birds in Africa head back out to Ghana to resume their field work after a brief spell in the UK over Christmas.  I thought it would be good moment to provide an update on what we're up to away from the UK and to give you a personal insight into the life of an international research scientist.

    This is the third winter of work that is attempting to understand the…

    • 12 Jan 2012
  • Easily distracted?

    There is a lot going on at the moment.  And I am here to help.

    If you are concerned about High Speed 2, why not read my colleague Andre Farrar's blog here.

    If you are concerned about the implications of us leaving Europe you could always listen to my interview on Farming Today last week.  You can find it here about 8 minutes in.  I waffle a bit - but you should be able to get the gist. 

    If you are concerned about the…

    • 11 Jan 2012
  • If only I had watched the telly on Sunday night...

    ...I would have seen the Prime Minister interviewed by John Craven on Countryfile.  It is worth a watch.  I am not for a moment suggesting that it is a substitute for what I called for in yesterday's blog - a key note speech setting out Mr Cameron's vision for the environment - but it is still pleasing to hear support for the environment from the top of the Government.

    As context for the interview, John uses footage…

    • 10 Jan 2012
  • And now for something completely different

    Many thanks to all of you that contributed to last week's debate about balancing agricultural production with conservation.  Whether you posted a comment, dropped me an email or simply read it - thank you!  Particular thanks to our guest contributors - Matthew Naylor, Allan Buckwell, Caroline Drummond and Johann Tasker.

    I think that we reached a good deal of consensus about ambition and intent.  As Caroline concluded…

    • 9 Jan 2012
  • Balancing agricultural production with conservation - continuing the debate (part 4)

    And now here is my final guest blog of the week from JohannTasker, chief reporter for Farmers Weekly magazine.  He follows contributions from Matthew Naylor, Allan Buckwell and Caroline Drummond.  They have all offered their thoughts on how to balance production with conservation in response to a presentation that I gave to the Oxford Farming Conference this week.   You can read a copy of my paper here.

    Johann's headline…

    • 8 Jan 2012
  • Balancing agricultural production with conservation - continuing the debate (part 3)

    This week my blog is exploring the challenge of balancing production with agriculture.  This was the focus for the talk I gave to the Oxford Farming Conference on Wednesday.  You can read a copy of my paper here.  Matthew Naylor and Allan Buckwell have offered their views and now, Caroline Drummond, the Chief Executive of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) has kindly outline her perspective below.   At the end of the week…

    • 7 Jan 2012
  • Balancing agricultural production with conservation - continuing the debate (part 2)

    This week I am encouraging commentators from outside the RSPB to offer their views on the paper that I presented to the Oxford Farming Conference this week.  You can read a copy of my paper here. After Matthew Naylor's comments yesterday, my second guest post comes from Allan Buckwell. Allan has remained a highly respected commentator of CAP issues over a number of years and has always looked to push the debate to find…

    • 6 Jan 2012
  • Balancing agricultural production with conservation - continuing the debate (Part 1)

    Yesterday, I gave a presentation to the Oxford Farming Conference on balancing production with conservation.  You can read a copy of my paper here. I enjoyed the experience despite having the odd flashback to doing my final year exams - the conference is held in the Examination Halls which for me is home to some rather painful memories. 

    It was great to be able to contribute to the debate as the conference sets the scene…

    • 5 Jan 2012
  • A message for 2012

    Happy New Year!

    My new year resolutions are simple to say and virtually impossible to achieve: I shall never shout at the kids, I shall complete a task before starting a new one, I shall master the art of presentation in my cooking and I shall improve my botany.

    But here is a resolution I would like to recommend to those in positions of authority: to relentlessly pursue ways to decouple economic growth from unsustainable…

    • 4 Jan 2012