• Celebrating seabird success

    The headline from this week's publication of Birdlife International's Red List for birds was bad news - more species threatened with extinction than ever before.

    But there was some good news.  For example, the conservation prospects of two albatross species (Black-browed and Black-footed) have improved.

    Black-browed Albatross, Grahame Madge (rspb-images.com)

    Red Lists calculate the risk of a species becoming…

    • 28 Nov 2013
  • Does Defra have a plan to close the funding gap?

    I spent the weekend with friends in Oxfordshire, a stone's throw from Aston Rowant  NNR.  While not the best time to enjoy the chalk grassland, red kites were everywhere.  A bit distracting for drivers (especially those, like me, that struggle at the best of times) but a wonderful addition to our skies.

    The BTO Bird Atlas, published last week, includes a load of good news stories, such as the red kite.  These remind u…

    • 25 Nov 2013
  • Bird Atlas 2007-11: a guest blog from Andy Clements, BTO Director

    On the day of the launch of the new Bird Atlas, I am delighted to host a guest blog from BTO boss, Andy Clements.  The Atlas is a towering achievement and all involved (including the volunteers) deserve credit, thanks and a celebratory glass or two.  I am convinced that the data will be underpinning conservation efforts for years to come... 

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    The wait is over. Over the next few days, Bird Atlas 2007-2…

    • 21 Nov 2013
  • The battle of Lodge Hill (part 4)

    Regular readers of this blog may recall that back in June I blogged (here) about the "Battle of Lodge Hill".  Well, yesterday, a new skirmish in that battle was settled. Natural England's Board has done the right thing and confirmed Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill as a SSSI.  At a public meeting yesterday, the Board heard the justification for the notification from its own staff, objections from Medway Council…

    • 20 Nov 2013
  • Nature Check 2013: how is the UK Government doing? Not as much as the public would like or nature needs

    It's a big day today.  Not only do NGOs issue their annual health check on government's nature credentials, but Natural England's Board is also meeting to consier whether to confirm (or reject) the nightingale site, Lodge Hill, as a SSSI.  Read on to find out more...

    The joint report, published today by 41 conservation organisations within Wildlife and Countryside Link, assesses the Coalition Government’s progress…

    • 19 Nov 2013
  • In favour of European cooperation.

    It's not what you think.

    Before you get excited or cry 'foul' - this is not going to be a blog on the relative merits of UK membership of the European Union.  Instead, I am going to reflect on my participation in last week's meeting of the European Birdlife partnership in Austria. 

    Last week, representatives from 35 of the 49 partners from across Europe and Central Asia (with Kazakhstan the most eastern of…

    • 18 Nov 2013
  • Re-naturing not wilding (2)

    I am currently, for reasons I shall explain next week, in Austria.  This is why I missed the Linnaean Society debate on Wednesday night on re-wildling.   RSPB's Futurescapes Manager Aidan Lonergan participated in the debate and offers his perspective on how it went...

    "The Linnaean Society offers a very elegant setting in the heart of London. While the debate was ostensibly on the issue of rewilding, I had to respond…

    • 15 Nov 2013
  • Re-naturing not wilding: guest blog from Miles King

    Last night, at the Linnaean Society, there was a debate on rewilding triggered by George Monbiot's recent book Feral  (which I reviewed here). One of the participants in the debate was a friend and colleague of many years, Miles King. Here he gives his perspective on the rewilding.  Tomorrow, I hope to offer some reflections on the debate itself.  
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    Reading George Monbiot's book on re-wilding…

    • 14 Nov 2013
  • The offset offering (3): an update on RSPB thinking

    I’ve commented on biodiversity offsets a couple of times already this year (see here and here). Since then we’ve had Defra’s Green Paper, I've participated in a debate at the Royal Society and today the Environmental Audit Committee published the report of its inquiry into the issue.

    As a principle, we have always said that biodiversity offsetting offers potential to deal with the ongoing losses…

    • 12 Nov 2013
  • Reflection on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's environment speech

    Early in the year I argued that it was important for political leaders to talk in public about their environmental ambitions.  Today, the Deputy Prime Minister did just that.  You can read his speech here.

    There is lots of good stuff in here - not just on energy, but also some welcome intent about the natural environment.  Although, Mr Clegg may have stretched the limits of credibility when talking about biodiversity getting…

    • 8 Nov 2013
  • Wobbling on lobbying?

    Back in September, I wrote (here) about the risk that a new bill in the House of Commons designed to nobble lobbying would prevent RSPB and others from undertaking legitimate campaigning activity in the run-up to elections.

    Two months later, I am pleased to report that the Government is wobbling in its resolve to rush through the Transparency of Lobbying Bill—new amendments have been announced and the bill has been put…

    • 7 Nov 2013
  • In praise of persistence

    In Conor Jameson's brilliant book Silent Spring Revisited, he reminds us how long it took for the UK Government to ban the class of pesticides that was decimating our bird of prey populations in the 1960's.  Despite long being aware of the toxic nature of these chemicals, it was not until 1972 that they were banned.  It took nearly a decade of campaigning by the RSPB and others to finally convince the old MAFF to…

    • 4 Nov 2013