• Moor Nature: Letter from the Moorland Association

    We have, today, received a response to our letter to the Moorland Association regarding our call for licensing of driven grouse moors.  

    While, I don't want to give a running commentary on what will now inevitably become a private conversation, this letter appeared on the Moorland Association website earlier today, so I felt it appropriate to share here.  

    Later this week, I shall share the principles by which any…

    • 1 Jul 2014
  • Why it’s time to license driven grouse shooting

    There was good news earlier this month.  We were able to report on three hen harrier nests in Northern England.  I hope that this is the start of a long road to the recovery of this species.

    But, even to guarantee the nesting success of these birds, we have to mount a 24 hour nest watch to protect them.

    Hen Harrier chicks. Photo by Mick Demain
    Photo by Mick Demain 

    And then we wait.  We wait to see if they can survive - once they leave the nest, we can’t do much…

    • 26 Jun 2014
  • The power of recovery

    I started this year reflecting on the continued need to 'stop the rot, protect the best and restore the rest'.  For much of the year, my attention has been focused on the first two parts of that conservation motto.

    So it has been refreshing to have. in the past fortnight, been reminded of the fantastic work that we are doing to restore lost nature.

    This weekend, my kids, my Godson and I pitched camp at RSPB

    • 23 Jun 2014
  • After the deluge, still searching for the right response to the floods of 2014

    Flooding has hit the headlines again as the Efra committee released their report into last winter’s floods today. Funding and dredging were the defining debates around events in Somerset and from the press coverage you would be forgiven for thinking that the Efra Committee made a compelling case for turning back the clock to a time when rivers were routinely de-silted, re-profiled and straightened.

    Where the Parrett…

    • 18 Jun 2014
  • Together For Biodiversity - A Natural Partnership Progresses

    I am looking forward to welcoming the EU Environment Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, to our Northward Hill Reserve tomorrow.  He has been a good Commissioner, a champion both of nature but also a defender of the right of NGOs to speak out.  His term in office has coincided with the economic crash and the political response to it.  It's clear that he has had to fight hard to protect environmental interests during this period…

    • 17 Jun 2014
  • Why Defra's decision on 'greening' is a missed opportunity for the environment

    I am off to the Cereals show (see here) tomorrow afternoon - the Mecca for arable farmers.  The RSPB is there, as ever, talking to farmers about how they can help wildlife while farming profitably. 
    Some farmers might have been wondering what they will have to do differently as a result of new 'greening' conditions placed on their Single Farm payment (see here for background). 
    Not much is the answer.
    • 11 Jun 2014
  • Forest Vision: guest blog from Rod Leslie, former head of policy at the Forestry Commission

    Last week's Queen's Speech did not include new legislation to secure the future of the public forest estate.  As Bishop James, who chaired the Independent Panel on Forestry, wrote in the Guardian (here) the ommission of the bill was 'highly regrettable'.  This will inevitably mean that debate about the future of our forests will rumble on until well after the next election. Today, I am delighted that Rod…

    • 9 Jun 2014
  • Reflections on Natural England's decision to reject a license application to trap and shoot buzzards

    I was pleased to hear today that Natural England have rejected a licence applications to trap and shoot 10 buzzards to protect young pheasants.  I understand that the applicant had failed to meet key tests which state...

    ...all other reasonable non-lethal solutions have been tried and/or shown to be ineffective

    ...there is a genuine problem/need

    ...there are no satisfactory alternatives

    ...the licensed action will be…

    • 6 Jun 2014
  • Following today's Queen's Speech, here's a big, hairy, audacious goal...

    Today's Queen's Speech sprung a few surprises with a mix of good, bad and missing bills. But it was also a stark reminder of how tough it will be to raise the political profile of nature conservation in the crucial pre-election year.  Here's my quick and dirty assessment of the new legislative programme...

    What's in...

    ...new powers to tackle invasive non-native species

    This is good news. New powers…

    • 5 Jun 2014
  • Buzzards in the firing line again?

    The buzzard is a wonderful bird of prey that has only recently recovered from sustained historic persecution, to become a regular and cherished sight in our countryside,. However, it still remains the victim of widespread persecution in the UK – remember the recent slaughter of six buzzards and 16 red kites in Ross-shire? It is, like all birds or prey, long-lived and produces relatively few young every year. This…

    • 2 Jun 2014