• The New Environmental Land Management Scheme: putting life back in the countryside?

    In the week when Meurig Raymond succeeded Peter Kendall as the President of the NFU (seehere),  Defra has announced (see here) more details about how farmers will be rewarded to protect the environment and recover farmland wildlife.  Details of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) for England have emerged and I am pleased to say that we are pretty pleased with what is being proposed.

    Those of you that have been…

    • 28 Feb 2014
  • The RSPB Centre for Conservation Science: finding solutions to 21st century conservation problems

    It is a perennial frustration that many people I meet are unaware of the scale and breadth of our science programme.  It is a part of our work which rarely gets the attention that it deserves.  Which is why I am delighted that we are today launching our new RSPB Centre for Conservation Science.  We want to raise the profile of our "outstanding" science (see here) but also to announce our intent to work with others…

    • 26 Feb 2014
  • Flooding and dredging - a reality check

    The RSPB has joined forces with angling and nature conservation organisations to support a new report by flood management experts (CIWEM) critiquing the contribution that dredging can make in preventing future floods.  You can read the report here.  

    We have made this intervention to counter some of the misinformation being bandied around about dredging and to influence the public debate about how we should adapt to…

    • 14 Feb 2014
  • Tackling wildlife crime abroad... and at home

    While trying to find a paid job in nature conservation in the early 1990s, I volunteered for various organisations doing a whole range of things.  My most memorable experience came while trying to raise money for elephant and rhino conservation – appearing in 'Hello' magazine dressed as a rhino while hugging Helena Christensen and Ali MacGraw.

    This fond memory returned to me this week as the spotlight fell…

    • 13 Feb 2014
  • RSPB letter in response to article in the Times last week about the Somerset Levels

    A few people have asked to see my letter published in the Times today in response to Alice Thomson's piece on the Somerset Levels last week.

    Here is the text as we submitted it.  A cut-down version appears online - which you can only read if you have a subscription.

    Sir, We are pleased to reassure Alice Thomson (“We can’t allow Somerset to sink into a swamp”, Feb 5) that we have no desire to see the Somerset Levels…

    • 12 Feb 2014
  • Flood money

    While the flooding threatens to bring more misery to more people, the political and media attention is shifting to money - money to deal with the clean up and money to make the country more resilient to future extreme weather events. 

    I imagine that existing departmental budget holders will be asked to see what contribution they can make and a certain amount of reprioritisation is inevitable.  For Defra, there is always…

    • 12 Feb 2014
  • Flooding: have we learnt our lesson?

    While our politicians engaged in a colourful (but highly unproductive) 24 hours of finger-pointing about who is responsible for the floods, rain continues to fall and water levels continue to rise across southern England. 

    Some have begun to call for a fundamental review to learn lessons from this crisis, but both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said that the immediate focus must, rightly, be on helping with…

    • 11 Feb 2014
  • The interview that never was

    For much of Sunday afternoon, I was mentally preparing myself for a TV interview about the floods while the kids and I cleared up the mess in the garden created by the previous day's vigorous pruning (brought on by the nightmare that took place at Anfield).  

    There had been some reticence for doing the interview as the crisis in the Levels and elsewhere across the country seemed to becoming increasingly politicised…

    • 10 Feb 2014
  • Another reason why prevention is better than the cure

    Last September, I shared our position (see here) on non-native invasive species and the new draft European regulation designed to address the serious threat they pose to wildlife and economies.  Like flooding and climate change, this is another issue where it pays to take action to prevent bad things occurring rather than wait and pick up the costs of the consequences (relevant to today's announcement by the Prime Minister…

    • 6 Feb 2014
  • Three good things


    It was so refreshing to hear late on Monday that we had agreed a joint vision for the future of Somerset Levels and Moors (see here). Those with long memories might have thought it impossible for farmers and the nature conservation community to agree anything in that part of the world.  But a joint vision for 2030 has been agreed, through a process kicked off by former Biodiversity Minister, Richard Benyon MP.…

    • 5 Feb 2014
  • Preventing future floods: the role of land management and the CAP

    More rain and tidal surges have meant that it has been another traumatic weekend for people in the West Country, and parts of Wales.  February started where the wettest January for 100 years left off, and more rain is forecast for this week. The crisis in the Somerset Levels - and let's not forget other parts of the country also affected by floods - will continue until the water ebbs, but it is increasingly clear that…

    • 3 Feb 2014
  • RSPB position on dredging in the Somerset Levels and Moors

    There was some misreporting on BBC Newsnight last night regarding our position on dredging in the Somerset Levels and Moors.  

    For the record, this is our position.

    The RSPB manages over 2,000 acres in the Somerset Levels.  With staff, volunteers and supporters living in the area, the RSPB have been closely involved in flood management for over thirty years.  

    The damage and distress of the past month shows that a lasting…

    • 1 Feb 2014