• Europe throws a lifeline to our bees

    In the end, the European Commission won the day and new restrictions will soon be placed on the use of the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.   

    Much of the comment in our press has focused on the fact that the UK, with seven other Member States, voted against a ban.  In fact, despite the recent campaigning effort from a number of NGOs, the UK hardened its position as in March they had abstained. 

    Here are the details…

    • 30 Apr 2013
  • Challenging times

    Last week, the UK Government announced plans to cut the ‘soaring’ number of Judicial Review applications being made in England and Wales’.  These include proposals to halve the time limit for applying for a review of a planning decision.

    We joined forces with WWF-UK, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to express our concerns. Why?

    First, because this is another example of the triumph of anecdote over…

    • 29 Apr 2013
  • Knowledge is power?

    The debate about the future of our marine wildlife intensified this week when 86 scientists called on the UK Government to inject some urgency into their plans to establish Marine Conservation Zones.    The fear is that unless ministers act quickly we shall be condemning our seas to over-exploitation and, as I wrote on Monday, marine wildlife needs more protection to help withstand pressures posed by human activity.  This…

    • 25 Apr 2013
  • Stuck for answers

    The images of seabirds covered in a gluey substance known as polyisobutene (PIB) are horrendous.  This pollution incident is yet another reminder of the many and varied threats wildlife faces from human activity.  And it ought to act as a kick up the backside of those responsible for trying to improve protection of our seabirds and other sealife.

    We now know hundreds of seabirds have died on the south coast of England…

    • 22 Apr 2013
  • GUEST BLOG BY DR JENNIFER SMART: Where have all the breeding waders gone and how are we going to get them back?

    I wrote yesterday about our approach to predators and what we do when science shows that predation affects populations of threatened species.  Today, I am delighted to host a guest blog from one of our great team of conservation scientists, Dr Jennifer Smart.  Here, she reports on the results of research project designed to help the conservation of lapwings.  The results have implications for conservation policy and practice…

    • 19 Apr 2013
  • The conservationists’ dilemma

    One of the more contested parts of the RSPB’s work revolves around predation and particularly those native predators that eat birds.

    It is, however, a fact of life that all bird species are subject to predation.  Predators have lived alongside most of their current natural bird prey for thousands of years without eliminating them. However, bird populations can decline or their numbers can be held low where levels…

    • 18 Apr 2013
  • Things we take for granted

    On Saturday afternoon, I went for my annual RSPB members' weekend run south of York University campus.  As I passed a man-made lake beside a new-ish development, I did a double-take as I saw two great crested grebes perform their spring courtship ritual.  Along with the arrival of migrants (first swallow ticked this weekend) it is one of the great sights of spring and so I slowed, enjoyed the show and then moved on…

    • 15 Apr 2013
  • The one when Mrs Thatcher went birding

    Here's another Margaret Thatcher story.  One that took place nearly a quarter of a century ago.  And it is one that I heard for the first time on Monday afternoon. It's when the then Prime Minister visited the RSPB headquarters to celebrate our centenary.   

    Back in 1989 I think I had just finished my A-Levels and was working as a coalman (true).  But, one of the joys about working at the RSPB is that there is always…

    • 12 Apr 2013
  • Is anywhere safe?

    In the week when we are debating the legacy of our longest-serving post war Prime Minister, other events have raised questions about what is happening to our green and pleasant land and to the wonders of the deep blue sea.

    Yesterday started well with the first chiffchaff of spring heard calling at the Lodge.  Yet, the mood changed when late in the afternoon we heard that Ministers had approved the extension to Lydd airport…

    • 11 Apr 2013
  • Margaret Thatcher's legacy

    Margaret Thatcher, who passed away yesterday, polarised opinion perhaps more than any other British politician.  Yet, whatever you thought of her, she was ahead of her time when she made her breakthrough environment speeches to the Royal Society in 1988 and to the UN the following year

    In these speeches, which are worth reading in full, she raised the public profile of global environmental threats such as climate change…

    • 9 Apr 2013
  • Facing up to inconvenient truths

    If you care about what happens to the millions of species with whom we share this beautiful planet, then you have to face up to some inconvenient truths: intensive food production can harm wildlife populations, inappropriate housing or port development can destroy important habitats, introducing non-native species can lead to species extinctions.  And, most inconvenient of all, our continued dependence on fossil fuels is…

    • 7 Apr 2013
  • Where next for pollinators and pesticides? MPs have their say

    I trust you all had a good Easter.  I assume, however, that like me you were thwarted in your attempts to find the first signs of spring.  Chiffchaff anyone?

    So for spring cheer, I suggest you read the Environmental Audit Committee report on ‘Pollinators and Pesticides’ which was published this morning.  You can find it here – and it’s well worth a read. 

    This inquiry delved into the controversies…

    • 5 Apr 2013