• Crunch time for CAP: making your voice heard

    I have just returned from an excellent few days away with the family in the Black Mountains of Wales.  The weather was dramatic but it did not stop us (including my newly intrepid six year old girl) climbing some hills.  Standing on Hay Bluff overlooking the Wye Valley you can see how agriculture shapes the countryside (for the good and sadly for the bad).  

    It was a timely reminder of the role of the Common Agriculture…

    • 1 Nov 2013
  • Re-Introducing Children into the Wild: guest blog from David Bond

    Last week, we reported that only one in five children in the UK are connected to nature - you can see my blog on it here. Today sees the launch of Project Wild Thing, a documentary film about reconnecting children with nature, and I'm delighted to welcome a guest blog from the director of the film, David Bond. 

    I'm a father of two small children. I look at their lives and worry. They spend the bulk of their time indoors…

    • 25 Oct 2013
  • Politicians hear farmers use their voice for nature

    Just days before the publication of Defra’s long-awaited consultation on how it plans to spend c£2 billion annually through the Common Agriculture Policy, a group of farmers travelled to London to make sure MPs and Ministers knew exactly how important agri-environment schemes are to them – not just for the wildlife they help support but as a key part of more sustainable farm businesses. 

    Supported by…

    • 24 Oct 2013
  • How not to design a planning system: lessons from Northern Ireland (part 2 and this time there is good news)

    Remember this?

    After this week's good news (see here) about the International Maritime Organisation's decision to ban ships from discharging nasty sticky substance polyisobutylene (PIB), can you cope with more good news?

    Well, the Northern Ireland Environment Minister, Mark Durkan MLA, has just announced that the much loathed Planning Bill is effectively dead.  The original proposals would have swept away various…

    • 23 Oct 2013
  • Chemical is given its own sticky ending

    Remember this?

    Well, we heard good news yesterday - the International Maritime Organisation has taken swift action to ban ships across the world from discharging all forms of high viscosity polyisobutylene (PIB) into the sea during tank cleaning operations.

    This is both surprising and fantastic news for us, the RSPCA, the Wildlife Trust, the 25,000 people who signed the 38 degree petition  and, of course, for marine wildlife…

    • 22 Oct 2013
  • Financing nature in an age of austerity: an opportunity (as detailed in a guest blog by Conor Jameson)

    In 2010, the RSPB produced a report outlining options for financing nature conservation without relying on the public purse.  We anticipated a significant reduction in public spending and therefore explored different approaches for addressing the funding shortage for saving nature, and meeting agreed biodiversity commitments.   The State of Nature report highlighted the inadequacy of current efforts.  So, it is essential…

    • 21 Oct 2013
  • When I die...

    At our AGM last Saturday, I used the Venerable Bede's sparrow in the banqueting hall as a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of one's own existence.  I said that every time I saw a graph showing wildlife declines (many of which start when I was born in 1970), it reminded me of how much we had lost while I had been a sparrow in Bede's banqueting hall ie in my lifetime.  I went on to say that this had led me to…

    • 18 Oct 2013
  • What’s your favourite ‘wild’ childhood memory?

    As a parent, I like watching my kids cavort in a wild place - rock-hopping, poking mud with a stick or rolling down a hill.  It visibly frees them as they sprint, giggle, shriek or lose themselves in the stories they weave.  And it's remarkable watching how far they'll walk in a beautiful landscape given how grumpy they can get just walking to the shops.   

    It makes sense - nature (whether in an urban park of a national…

    • 16 Oct 2013
  • Finding solutions to 21st century conservation problems: guest blog from Dr David Gibbons

    Those of you who came to the AGM on Saturday would have heard Dr David Gibbons talk about the breadth of our science.  It was inspiring stuff.  

    Here, David announces our intention to establish the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science.


    At the RSPB we are very proud of our science and for good reason - for over four decades we've invested in science to help us identify and tackle some of the biggest problems…

    • 15 Oct 2013
  • The RSPB AGM's top ten moments

    If you missed the AGM on Saturday, here is my rundown of the top ten moments from the day...

    At ten, not one moment, but lots of good moments catching up with friends, members, colleagues and even the odd follower of this blog on a sunny day in London.  Lots of awards for volunteers and our most prestigious award, the RSPB Medal, going to Professor Sir Bob Watson for his outstanding contribution to tackling climate change…

    • 14 Oct 2013
  • Guest blog from RSPB's new president: Miranda Krestovnikoff

    Miranda Krestovnikoff was voted in as the RSPB's new President at today's AGM (a great day and I'll offer more reflections on Monday).   For those of you that were not able to be there and see/hear her in action today, we thought it would be a good idea for her to share - via a guest blog - her commitment and enthusiam for her new role.  If you tune in to Woman's Hour on Monday, you'll be able to hear more …

    • 13 Oct 2013
  • Good news for breeding waders

    It's our AGM tomorrow and to mark the occasion I wanted to share some good news.

    Last month, I hinted that breeding waders on our nature reserves might have had a better season.  The results from across our network of nature reserves are now in and I am delighted to be able to report that some species - especially lapwing and black-tailed godwit - have had a good year.  Other species - like snipe and redshank - fared…

    • 11 Oct 2013
  • The badger cull – why was there no plan V?

    In a rational world, when you set up a pilot to test something, you conduct the pilot and then evaluate its success against pre-agreed criteria.  You then take your time to learn the lessons from the pilot and decide whether you do it again, do it differently or stop completely and try something else.

    When it comes to badgers and bovine TB, we don't seem to be operating in a rational world.  Yesterday's reporting of…

    • 10 Oct 2013
  • Do the shuffle (2)

    The Coalition and Opposition reshuffled their ministerial and shadow teams yesterday.   Defra ministers David Heath and Richard Benyon return to the backbenches; Dan Rogerson and George Eustice arrive as their successors.  Mary Creagh leaves her role shadowing Owen Paterson as she moves to Transport.  Maria Eagle is the new Labour lead on the environment.

    I have three thoughts on the reshuffle.

    1. To those that are moving…

    • 8 Oct 2013
  • Nature's home

    It’s arrived!


    A crisp copy of our new magazine, Nature’s Home, landed on my desk on Friday.


    I know our editorial team has been flat out for weeks preparing for the launch of Nature’s Home and I think it looks really good.  


    The new magazine will be full of wildlife (and lots of birds) and will tell the stories of the great people who are working so hard to give nature a home. Graham Hirons‘ contribution…

    • 7 Oct 2013
  • Shaping the countryside we want and nature needs (3): greening

    Over the last couple of days, I’ve looked at two of the big issues that the Government is wrestling with as it tries to figure out what the CAP should look like in England over the next seven years.  Today I want to discuss ‘greening’ – the CAP’s version of you shouldn’t get something for nothing.

    Big issue number 3: making greening work for wildlife

    Greening was EU Commissioner Ciolos…

    • 4 Oct 2013
  • Shaping the countryside we want and nature needs (2): design matters

    Yesterday, I raised the first big issue in the forthcoming CAP consultation: transfers of subsidies from direct payments to Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). Today, I offer some thoughts on how to make the best use of the money that is transferred.   

    Big issue number 2: Design of the Rural Development Programme

    All four countries in the UK will need to design a new Rural Development Programme - the bit of the CAP budget…

    • 3 Oct 2013
  • Shaping the countryside we want and nature needs: how to spend c£2 billion of English taxpayers' money

    In the next week or two, Defra is set to release their proposals for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in England. The rest of the UK is either already consulting on theirs, as in Northern Ireland and Wales, or planning to do so.

    It’s no exaggeration to say that the future shape of the CAP will have a significant, and in some instances decisive influence over the future shape of our countryside…

    • 2 Oct 2013