• Guest blog: New Havens for Wildlife

    Here is a guest blog from Richard Benyon, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, all about the new Nature Improvement Areas, announced by Defra on Monday:

    "The RSPB has played an invaluable role in helping us deliver our vision for Nature Improvement Areas.
     
    The RSPB, along with the Wildlife Trusts, have helped lead the way in taking forward landscape-scale projects that enhance our habitats and species but…

    • 29 Feb 2012
  • Improving nature

    Nearly a decade ago, the RSPB coined a phrase to sum up our conservation challenge.  We wanted to stop the rot, protect the best and restore the rest.

    At times it still feels like our work is cut out trying to stop the rot.  Our desire to sustain economic growth does place huge pressures on our finite natural resources.  But, we have made great strides in managing and protecting our finest wildlife sites.  I am not complacent…

    • 28 Feb 2012
  • A first! An ASBO to protect nature... part 2

    Further to my earlier blog today, here is a personal take on the ASBO from one of our brilliant investigators, Mark Thomas.

    He boarded the tube carrying a small pizza box, a rather normal looking man in the midst of East London. He was wearing dark, almost military clothing and carrying a small shoulder bag. The train sped through the city, the suburbs and out in to rural estuary Essex. By now he was fidgety but only…

    • 27 Feb 2012
  • A first! An ASBO to protect nature

    My love of nature is personal - a bit like a religious belief.  Walking through woods, as I did this weekend, seeing the snowdrops and aconites while listening to birds sing makes me feel good.  Simple as that.

    To others, the value may simply be monetary. 

    Either way, nature has real value.

    Take white-tailed eagles - I think they are amazing, the sight of one is a highlight which lives long in the memory.   I saw my first…

    • 27 Feb 2012
  • Shopping for tigers and trees

    My job throws up some surprises.

    I began yesterday with a shopping trip to Tesco, in a store that had been temporarily transformed into a rainforest walkway (that’s me with the basket next to Tesco’s Ruth Giradet).  Fears that we might get lost in the makeshift jungle soon disappeared, when we bumped into Amazon-conquering explorer, Ed Stafford (who is, it must be said, in slightly better shape than me).  And the…

    • 24 Feb 2012
  • Together for Trees

    Today we launch our Together for Trees partnership with Tesco – a partnership that will provide much needed support for our rainforest programme.  Our programme now covers 240,000 hectares in seven countries - an area greater than the size of the Lake District - where we are working with our Birdlife International partners to save forests and their threatened wildlife.

    This is a departure for the RSPB, but a very exciting…

    • 23 Feb 2012
  • NEWSFLASH: Cormorants eat fish!

    Let's get this on the record, I think the Angling Trust does a great job and I’m happy we work so closely with them on so many watery issues through the Blueprint for Water. But like most friends they do seem to have peculiar peccadilloes, and in the Angling Trust’s case its their single minded pursuit of the cormorant where we might fall out.

    Of course, this bird eats fish.  In fact, like some other species…

    • 22 Feb 2012
  • Weather warnings for wildlife

    I only have myself to blame.  Six weeks ago I was complaining that we hadn't had a proper winter.  I think that you need to earn spring.  Well, having spent another day shivering between offices yesterday, I was pleased to hear it will be short-sleeved weather this weekend.  From -9 to +17 degrees Centigrade in a fortnight - classic British weather.

    But while the weather fluctuates, patterns emerge and some of these…

    • 21 Feb 2012
  • Where do squirrels go in the pouring rain?

    I have a reputation, undeserved I would say, for leading my in-laws on unproductive wildlife forays.  One such occasion involved my failure to find the promised red squirrels in monsoon conditions in Northumberland.  The fruitless search became famiy legend in a song, the chorus of which begins 'Where do squirrels go in the pouring rain?'

    This weekend, to top off a great half-term break, we celebrated my father…

    • 20 Feb 2012
  • Shearwater chicks make a tasty snack for an intrepid predator

    I am away this week, so I am taking the opportunity to invite colleagues to tell you about some of our International Research.  In today's guest blog, Steffen Oppel goes cat tracking to solve the mystery of disappearing shearwater chicks.

    I just returned from a tiny speck of land in the North Atlantic - the island of Corvo, which belongs to the Azores archipelago.  It is roughly half-way between Europe and North America…

    • 17 Feb 2012
  • The Gulf of Martaban, a critical habitat for a critically endangered species

    I am away this week, so I am taking the opportunity to invite colleagues to tell you about some of our International Research.  In today's guest blog, Rob Sheldon shares his experiences from the mudflats of Myanmar.

    "SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER!" shouted Christoph Zockler.

    The 15 hour flight, 3 hour car drive and lack of sleep on board a local fishing boat suddenly became worthwhile.  Just one hour into survey work…

    • 16 Feb 2012
  • What do leopards eat?

    I am away this week, so I am taking the opportunity to invite colleagues to tell you about some of our International Research.  In today's guest blog, Jeremy Lindsell reports on a recent fieldtrip to Sierra Leone in West Africa.

    As any parent knows, the content of a child’s nappy can tell you a good deal about what they’ve been eating. So when I saw the toenails of an antelope in the scat of a leopard last week, I shouldn…

    • 15 Feb 2012
  • Looking after 'our' birds in Africa – local support for local projects

    I am away this week, so I am taking the opportunity to invite colleagues tell you about some of our International Research.  In today's guest blog, Danaë Sheehan shares her experiences in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa.

    I work on issues related to the decline of African-Eurasian migrant birds – those that fly back and forth between Africa and Europe or across to Asia - and I've just returned…

    • 14 Feb 2012
  • An Ethiopian mystery is solved!

    I am away this week, so I am taking the opportunity to let colleagues tell you about some of our International Research.  In today's guest blog, Paul Donald talks about the mystery of the charismatic Ethiopian bush-crow...

    Today was a great day – an email from the international Journal of Ornithology confirming that a scientific article by my colleagues and I has been accepted for publication. Not a massively rare event…

    • 13 Feb 2012
  • Heading North

    Tomorrow I am heading off with the kids to the North-East to see family and to escape the Siberian weather of East Anglia.

    But, as a special treat,  I have invited 5 guest bloggers who work in our International research and species recovery teams. Together they will try to give a flavour of the depth and breadth of RSPBs training and research in some far flung corners of the globe. 

    The RSPB prides itself on implementing…

    • 11 Feb 2012
  • What do we think about Rio+20?

    In June this year, twenty years on from the original Earth Summit, a UN conference on sustainable development will take place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.  The UK Environment Secretary gave an overview of preparations for this conference yesterday and you can read a copy of her speech here.

    I know that many hearts will sink at the thought of politicians gallivanting half way round the world to take stock of the state of…

    • 10 Feb 2012
  • More anniversaries

    Without wishing to, again, raise the hackles of my good neighbour  (see yesterday's blog), here is a list of other anniversaries falling this year

    1. The original Rio 'Earth Summit' took place 20 years ago.  To mark this moment, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, 'Rio+20', will take place in Brazil from 20-22 June 2012.  Today, Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, will be outlining the…

    • 9 Feb 2012
  • In praise of Charles Dickens

    With apologies to my good neighbour Jenny Diski (discussing the pointlessness of marking anniversaries on PM last night)...

    I couldn't resist blogging about Dickens' bicetenerary. 

    Dickens is so closely associated with London that we might forget the importance that nature played in his novels.  As well as all the dark places in London, Dickens was also aware of small corners and hidden refugia where people could…

    • 8 Feb 2012
  • I agree with...

    ...Ban Ki-moon and what he said last week.  Watch this.  It is refreshing to hear the UN's Secretary General reinforce his commitment to sustainable development.

    The UN has developed a pretty good plan to ensure that we look after the planet while we seek a way out of the economic mess we're in.  The 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which were agreed at the Nagoya meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention…

    • 7 Feb 2012
  • If Carlsberg did...

    ...first live football matches, they might have chosen Arsenal vs Blackburn on Saturday. 

    As luck would have it, this was my boy's first ever trip to the Arsenal.  I had to explain that Arsenal do not always score in the first 90 seconds, that his hero Robin Van Persie does not always score hat-tricks, that my hero Thierry Henry does not always score with the last kick of the game, that we do not always play against…

    • 6 Feb 2012
  • The quest for corporate champions continues...

    My major criticism of Defra's Natural Environment White Paper last summer was that it lacked a convincing funding strategy.  Yes, there is new money for Nature Improvement Areas, yes for improving our water bodies and yes there is an intent to make environmental stewardship schemes work harder for farmers and wildlife.  All good stuff and genuinely welcome.  But the sad reality is that this will be insufficient to reverse…

    • 2 Feb 2012
  • Leaders of the pack?

    Some businesses are born sustainable, some achieve sustainability and some have (or will need to have) sustainability thrust upon them.  I don’t really mind how it happens as long as it does.  Unless businesses decouple profit from harm caused to the environment, we are in serious trouble.

    The good news is that this message is hitting home in some Board rooms.  Take Unilever, for example.  Last year, they published the…

    • 1 Feb 2012