• That was the year that was: a conservation quiz about 2013

    I like quizzes.

    And so, to help you reflect on the year just gone, here's a quiz based on the most viewed posts on this blog in 2013.

    I'll try post the results some time after midnight on New Year's Day.  For now, gather your family around, sit down with a drink, make yourselves comfortable and see if you can remember the highs and lows of conservation in 2013...

    Question 1: Who or what controversially gave…

    • 31 Dec 2013
  • The CAP deal: short of what nature needs

    I was carol singing outside the Lodge (RSPB HQ) canteen yesterday raising money for Operation Turtle Dove when news of the Defra CAP deal emerged.  You can read our reaction here.  

    Those of you who have been watching this closely will remember that the key figure to look out for was the magic 15%.  This was the maximum amount of money that governments across the UK could transfer from direct payments to rural development…

    • 20 Dec 2013
  • A tale of two estuaries

    So, it's a battle between Heathrow and Gatwick.   But Sir Howard Davies, in his interim report on aviation capacity, has also said that he wants to spend more time looking at the option of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.  See the immediate reaction from my colleague, Andre Farrar here.

    Our position has been simple - the environmental damage (on special places and the climate) posed by new aviation capacity…

    • 18 Dec 2013
  • Storm surge: guest blog by Laurence Rose, Senior Sites Manager, RSPB

    In a week dominated by political announcements, I thought it would be good to offer a perspective about how nature is faring on the frontline.  Last week's storm surge has had a major impact on many parts of then country especially in the East of England.  I have therefore asked my colleague, Laurence Rose, Senior Sites Manager for North Norfolk to give a first-hand view of what happened and how we are dealing the consequences…

    • 17 Dec 2013
  • A week to remember or one to forget?

    It's a big week - the last working week of the year for some of us. And there is stack of government announcements piling up waiting to be unveiled before the Christmas break.

    First, it's crunch time for the CAP - ministers across the UK have to report to the European Commission how they plan to spend their allotted Common Agriculture Policy money by the end of the year.  Specifically, Ministers have to decide how…

    • 16 Dec 2013
  • Crunch time for the CAP... this weekend

    This weekend, the Prime Minister and his counterparts in the devolved administrations will make decisions that will have huge consequences for the UK countryside.

    The RSPB's Chief Executive, Dr Mike Clarke, has written to Mr Cameron outlining the choice he faces and urges him to make the right decision for the future of farming, wildlife and the countryside. 

    We are urging the Prime Minister to transfer the maximum…

    • 14 Dec 2013
  • Bird Crime: a test of anyone's temper

    Simon Barnes is a fantastic writer.  He is my favourite sports' journalist and his regular column in Nature’s Home is always one of the first I flick to.  In the last issue, he writes as eloquently as ever on shooting in our uplands and the persecution of birds of prey, but when I read the first draft of our annual Birdcrime report, detailing the offences against wild bird legislation in 2012, I'm not sure I quite…

    • 13 Dec 2013
  • Crunch time for the CAP (again)

    By Christmas, the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, will make decisions that will shape our countryside for years to come.

    He is due to announce how he plans to spend c£2 billion annually of taxpayers money through the Common Agriculture Policy in England. At the same time, his colleagues in the devolved administrations will be making the same decisions. 

    While most of the rules have already been set (badly) through…

    • 10 Dec 2013
  • Turbulent times (2)

    The storms did cause damage, but was perhaps not as bad as people feared.  This is partly down to improved sea defences but also early warning systems established by the Environment Agency and the emergency service teams involved.

    It was good to receive a call from Defra on Thursday sharing their assessment of risks based on COBRA meeting discussions.  But it was even more reassuring to hear that our local teams already…

    • 9 Dec 2013
  • Turbulent times: the need for an active response

    On the day that the winds blew, storms surged and we experienced the highest tides in nearly sixty years, the Chancellor delivered his 2013 Autumn Statement on the fairest economic wind” that has blown since the devastating financial crash of 2007-08.

    However, despite the green shoots of growth that have emerged since the Budget earlier this year, the public finances are far from fixed, and the deficit remains…

    • 6 Dec 2013
  • Learning lessons from... California

    The Chancellor will stand up to deliver his autumn statement.  I'm looking forward to hearing how the Chancellor plans to grow prosperity, decarbonise the economy, whilst enhancing the natural environment.  I am hoping for a long term vision that embraces all these elements.

    I'm hoping... but I am also fearful.  News of further cuts could spell more bad news for our rapidly diminishing environment budget.

    I'll offer…

    • 5 Dec 2013
  • Christmas gift idea

    Looking for that perfect Christmas gift for that hard-to-please relative?

    Well, look no further.  Let me introduce you to our limited edition Love Nature brand of extra-virgin rapeseed oil.

     We have produced 2,800 bottles from 3-4 tonnes of oil seed rape grown on the RSPB's Hope Farm.

    With its distinctive, nutty taste it is suitable for frying, roasting, dressing of drippings.  Why not put some of this yellowy elixir…

    • 3 Dec 2013
  • The Chancellor's Autumn Statement: a preview

    The Chancellor will give his autumn statement on Thursday.  

    Since the economic shock in 2008, any statement from any Chancellor has had the ability to send chills down the spine.  We've had announcements about cuts (which have hit environmental institutions hard), about spending on new infrastructure (not all likely to be benign to the environment) and also rhetorical attacks on environmental regulations (which have just…

    • 2 Dec 2013