• Protect the best? A week of mixed fortunes for our finest wildlife sites

    In a week when the UK Government has (see here) ruled out fracking from our finest wildlife sites, the RSPB has joined the Wildlife Trusts' campaign to protect Rampisham Down, a grassland SSSI in Dorset.  Below, my colleagues from our South West region, Tony Whitehead and Renny Henderson, provide an overview of the case.  At the end, I draw some parallels with Lodge Hill case and offer you a way to get involved.

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    • 30 Jan 2015
  • The third Natural Capital Committee Report: essential reading for anyone who is or aspires to be in the Treasury

    There are two main reasons for saving nature...

    ...a moral belief that the millions of species with which we share this planet have a right to exist

    ...knowledge that nature provides essential things humans need: food, water, shelter, energy and inspiration.

    The strength of support for the former is perhaps best reflected in membership of wildlife NGOs.

    The strength of support for the latter has, up until fairly recently…

    • 28 Jan 2015
  • The Hen Harrier Action Plan – two big unanswered questions

    The content of the Hen Harrier Action Plan has once again been subject to much commentary through social media (see here and here) .  This was triggered by news that another conservation organisation, the Hawk and Owl Trust, has agreed to run an experiment to test a scheme known as brood management.

    This is not the way to formulate policy in a highly contested area and it reinforces my view that the brood management scheme…

    • 27 Jan 2015
  • 100 days to go

    I hope you enjoyed Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend.  Hundreds of thousands of people (including at least three Harpers recording 11 species) gave up an hour of their time to count the birds in their garden.  What's more, Cambridge United and Arsenal are both in the hat for the fifth round draw of the FA Cup.  What a great weekend.

    Anyone that cares about wildlife should also care about politics.  The decisions that…

    • 26 Jan 2015
  • The science of Big Garden Birdwatch

    On Saturday morning, before taking my daughter to ballet, I shall grab a coffee and sit for an hour staring at my garden.  I'll join the half a million or so that will take part in Big Garden Birdwatch.   The kids and I will take turns with the binoculars and the laptop to spot birds and upload our results. 

    The weather forecast sounds perfect and I am hopeful that the Long-tailed Tits that have been frequent garden visitors…

    • 23 Jan 2015
  • Deeply beautiful : why we should rule out fracking in protected areas

    There is a peculiar distinction in British environmentalism that has separated beauty from wildlife.  These two features of the natural world have been championed by different NGOs and even command distinct designations.  I blame Romanticism.  It's never made sense to me - the pleasure and inspiration I draw from beautiful places and amazing wildlife are intrinsically linked.

    And now, for no rational reason, the UK…

    • 22 Jan 2015
  • Guest blog by Rod Leslie: There is no more space….

    To continue to the debate about the future of the EU Nature Directives, I am delighted to welcome back Roderick Leslie.  Rod has direct experience of large scale land use as a senior manager of England’s 600,000 acres of Forestry Commission forests. He was a member of RSPB Council in the late 1980s when RSPB first moved into agricultural policy.

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    Of course we need to water down the EU Directives…

    • 20 Jan 2015
  • Can democracy save nature? A question for those with power and those with influence (and that includes you and me)

    My new year's resolution (here) was to demand and make better decisions for nature.  I sought inspiration from the waggle-dancing of honeybees.  

    Today, I want to muse about our version of democracy and how those with power and influence can do more for nature.

    The context, of course, is May's general election, and the many big decisons that need to be taken in 2015 that will decide the nature of the global climate…

    • 19 Jan 2015
  • A lesson from America

    The debate about the future of the EU Nature Directives is set to dominate conservation conversations for at least the next 18 months (see here).  While the Commission runs a review of its effectiveness, Member States will report on their experiences.  The European Parliament will, inevitably, want to have its say although may have to agitate from the sidelines unless or until new legislation is drafted.  

    After a rapid round…

    • 13 Jan 2015
  • Adapting policy when the evidence changes: a focus on neonicotinoid insecticides

    In my first blog of 2015 (here) I wrote about how we can learn from bees to make better decisions.  One of the lessons was to be prepared to adapt when the information changes.  Today, I want to continue the theme and offer an example of how the RSPB has adapted its policy on neonicotinoid insecticides based on fresh evidence about their impacts on wildlife.

    There has been a phenomenal number of research papers published…

    • 5 Jan 2015
  • Waggle dancing for nature in 2015

    2015 - it feels like a big year.  There's an election around the corner and, by the end of the year, we'll know the fate of wildlife sites such as Lodge Hill, the future of the EU Nature Directives and whether we'll have a global climate change deal.

    It is a year that is crying out for good decisions.  

    So, my resolution for the year is simple - make and demand better decisions for nature.

    During the break…

    • 5 Jan 2015