• The Liberal Democrat manifesto: first out of the blocks for nature?

    Politics can be a short term game. Headlines come and go, polls rocket and plummet, and our leaders are very often judged by what they can offer you this minute, not by what they protect for our future.

    Every now and then, however, politicians are able to look up from the daily news and think about the long-term. In these moments, a single political action can do as much for nature as years of hard slog on the ground…

    • 1 Aug 2014
  • Protecting the best... from fracking

    I started the year (here) focusing on the need to protect our finest wildlife sites - whether locally, nationally or internationally significant. For the Government to have a chance of realising its ambition to be the first generation to pass on the natural environment in an enhanced state to the next, it must improve protection and management of our jewels in the crown - just 35% of SSSIs, for example, are currently…

    • 29 Jul 2014
  • The RSPB welcomes M&S’s decision not to stock red grouse this year

    The last few weeks has seen an intense focus on the uplands, especially in England. Central to this has been a growing and extremely welcome chorus to see the return of hen harriers to the rightful place as a breeding bird of our hills – the shockwaves of the last year’s failure to see any hen harrier nest successfully in England have, at long last, built a momentum for change.

    In parallel the future of the…

    • 26 Jul 2014
  • What the RSPB thinks about the proposed Defra Hen Harrier Action Plan

    It's good to see (here) the shooting community supporting the need for a recovery plan for the hen harrier in England - this is a positive step forward. 

    As I have written previously (for example, see here), we want a world richer in nature and we want to see a recovery plan that does what it says on the tin, i.e. it secures recovery for the hen harrier in England.  This is something to which the UK Government is committed…

    • 25 Jul 2014
  • A reaction to the UK Government's decision to stick to its carbon targets for the 2020s

    Three weeks after I shared the latest understanding about the impacts of climate change on birds (here), I was delighted to hear today's news that the Government will be sticking to its carbon targets for the 2020s. This is an important decision from the Coalition and one that I warmly welcome.

    Many of you will remember the Climate Change Act, passed with cross-party consensus in 2008, putting the UK at the forefront…

    • 23 Jul 2014
  • Reflections on the Game Fair

    It was roasting hot at the CLA Game Fair in Blenheim on Friday.   My failure to invest in a light linen suit and rely instead on my black chords meant that I suffered.   

    I participated in the afternoon debate questioning whether the rural economy needs shooting or angling.  The stimulus for the session was a recent update of a report first published in 2006, "The Value of Shooting" (here), by the Public and Corporate…

    • 21 Jul 2014
  • Towards a brighter future for hen harriers and our uplands

    The CLA's Game Fair takes place this weekend. As ever, the RSPB will be there, inspiring others to do more for wildlife and no doubt being challenged about our stance on one of two things as well.

    I'll be there on Friday and am speaking in a debate on whether the rural economy can survive without shooting and fishing. I'll let you know how I get on.

    The theme of our stand this year is how some shoot managers…

    • 18 Jul 2014
  • A message to the incoming Environment Secretary

    The sixth Secretary of State in eight years has been appointed today to succeed Margaret Becket, David Miliband, Hilary Benn, Caroline Spelman and Owen Paterson.

    A warm welcome to Liz Truss MP.

    With a General Election inked in for May 2015, she has ten months to make an impact but history tells us that this is a brief where you can do great things and may need to be prepared to deal with floods, plagues and even pestilence…

    • 15 Jul 2014
  • The case for Catfield

    There are special places and then there are really special places.  I visited two really special places in Norfolk on Friday: our own Sutton Fen and Butterfly Conservation's Catfield Fen which we manage on their behalf.

    Exploring the heart of these reserves is to be lost within a wild world where wildlife flourishes.  If there is another site in England with a higher density of Red Data Book species, I am not aware…

    • 14 Jul 2014
  • Influencing policy and politics through practice

    I've been out and about this week seeing a big landscape scale restoration project in Somerset, species recovery in action in Essex and tomorrow I am off to see one of our finest wildlife sites under threat in Norfolk.  

    Sandwiched in the middle of these visits, I joined colleagues from WWF, The Wildlife Trusts, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Aldersgate Group to give evidence to the Environment Audit Commiittee…

    • 11 Jul 2014
  • Principles for licensing driven grouse shooting

    Ten days ago the RSPB wrote to the major political parties to urge them to introduce a licensing system to govern driven grouse shooting after the General Election in May 2015 - the next available legislative slot.  We need action because of the poor state of our uplands and the ongoing persecution of birds of prey especially the hen harrier.  

    While some in the shooting community have sought to ridicule our call and others…

    • 7 Jul 2014
  • Birds and Climate Change - a new book

    Yesterday, I was delighted to help launch a new book, Birds and Climate Change, by BTO's James Pearce-Higgins and my RSPB colleague, Rhys Green.  It is an impressive and important book - probably the most comprehensive synthesis yet of the science of climate change, the impacts on nature and the relative merits of conservation responses.

    Reviewing published evidence and using case studies (on species such as red grouse…

    • 2 Jul 2014