• What has the EU ever done for wildlife?

    Following on from the tremendous public response to the consultation on the future of the Nature Directives, in which 520,325 people told European leaders not to weaken them – I’m delighted to welcome Dr Paul Donald, Principle Conservation Scientist at the RSPB, to talk about his latest research that proves just how effective the Birds Directive is.

    The European Union is under pressure like never before…

    • 28 Jul 2015
  • Some holiday reading

    By the time you read this I shall be safely ensconced in our hut (probably sheltering from the rain) on the Northumberland coast. For company, as well as my wife and children, I shall take Mike Pratt’s new book Wild Northumbria. It will inspire me to explore more of the best county in England.

    Before I run away on leave, there are few things to note.

    First, I was delighted that our campaign to defend the nature…

    • 27 Jul 2015
  • Why we have called for a national gull summit

    Last Friday, the Prime Minister David Cameron called for a big conversation around gulls following highly publicised tragic incidents involving the loss of pets to these birds.  Since then, there has been a huge amount of media attention on the relationship between gulls and humans.

    As I wrote in an article in the Telegraph today (see here), I think the PM's right.  There should be a conversation too, but like any conversation…

    • 24 Jul 2015
  • Comprehensive Spending Review 2015 - five ways to avoid undermining ambitions for nature

    Details of the Comprehensive Spending Review emerged today, a fortnight after the Budget (see here).  There were two stand-out headlines...

    ...cuts of between 25%-40% for unprotected departments such as Defra and Decc

    ...disposal of public land for 150,000 new houses

    While these announcements will send tremors across Whitehall and have consequences for government activity across the country, there is also real jeopardy…

    • 22 Jul 2015
  • The scale and extent of burning in our uplands

    The publication of new RSPB research (here) outlining the extent of burning in Britain’s uplands reveals some very simple truths...

    ...burning on peat soils in grouse moors is extensive (see map below) and intensifying (c11% per annum over the past decade – see graph)

    ...much of this burning takes place on protected areas: 55% of Special Areas of Conservation and 63% of Special Protection Areas that were…

    • 21 Jul 2015
  • Defending Nature for local communities

    Today I am delighted to welcome Gill Moore from the Friends of North Kent Marshes – a local campaign group – to talk about why the Nature Directives are so important to her local community, and the special places they love. Gill is pictured below (on the right) with former MP Mark Reckless and  another of the driving forces behind FONKM, Joan Darwell.  Together with George Crozier, Gill and Joan have formed…

    • 20 Jul 2015
  • U-turn on fracking in SSSIs undermines the Government's nature ambitions

    I spent yesterday in Defra talking about its two 25 year plans - for food and farming and a separate one for biodiversity.   There is a rather obvious need to broaden the farming strategy beyond growth objectives and to align the two pieces of work (more on this soon), but it was good ministers and officials engaged and listening.

    I emerged to find that the Government had reneged on its commitment to ban fracking from…

    • 17 Jul 2015
  • A warm welcome to Rewilding Britain

    A new organisation, Rewilding Britain, was launched today.  I wish them well.

    I am a fan of any organisation or person that challenges the current nature conservation movement to think big.  It is clear that we need to do much more to live up to the mantra of Professor Sir John Lawton and deliver more, bigger, better and connected protected areas.  And I think it is right to have a debate about which iconic species should…

    • 16 Jul 2015
  • Defending nature for future generations

    Today, I am delighted to welcome Leanne Tough from the RSPB Phoenix Forum – which represents around 56,000 teenagers that are members of the RSPB Phoenix – to talk about her experience speaking up for young people at Green Week in Brussels, and why we need to protect the EU Nature Directives now, if we want a future rich in wildlife.  


    Green Week (3-5th June) is a conference and ideas pool held by the…

    • 15 Jul 2015
  • Saving nature, tackling climate change

    Last week, the Adaptation Sub-Committee (of the Climate Change Commitee) put a spotlight on the need to protect our high carbon habitats especially our peatlands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from poor land management.  The RSPB has long believed that protecting nature can help tackle climate change and this informs our advocacy at home but also internationally through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change…

    • 13 Jul 2015
  • Brownfield land – for homes or nature, but definitely not for climate

    It's been a busy week for Chancellor George Osborne.  Today, he unveiled plans today for “sweeping new changes” to planning laws (see page 43 onwards here), to deliver the homes the country needs. This includes a new “zonal” system, which will give automatic planning permission on all suitable brownfield sites, removing “unnecessary” delays to development.

    I feel for planners.  The…

    • 11 Jul 2015
  • A reaction to the Budget

    Those working in nature conservation are used to making a little go a long way and, despite the clear need for investment, we did not expect to be showered with funding in today’s budget.

    We had wondered whether the Chancellor might adopt language from the Natural Capital Committee which argued that a healthy natural environment underpins our prosperity.  This would have provided the opportunity to reinforce commitments…

    • 9 Jul 2015
  • Three things to look out for in the Budget

    If you are watching the Budget tomorrow, you may want to pass the time and play Budget Bingo by creating a grid of catchphrases that you expect the Chancellor to use and then ticking them off one by one.  You could include "northern powerhouse", "long-term economic plan", "all in this together" etc. Students would obviously turn this into a drinking game, but I don't advise that.


    • 8 Jul 2015
  • A thought on airports

    Understandably, there was extensive media coverage of the report led by the airport Commission led by Sir Howard Davies.  

    Those of you that are regular readers of RSPB blogs will know that we have two principal concerns about aviation expansion...

    ...the damage to sites of international wildlife importance and

    ...the increasing climate change threat of a spike in greenhouse gas emissions.

    We're thankful therefore…

    • 2 Jul 2015
  • Why was the Birds Directive created? Guest blog from Alistair Gammell

    Today, I am delighted to welcome my former RSPB colleague,  Alistair Gammell. Alistair worked for the RSPB for three decades including as our first International Director.  Amongst his many achievements, he played a key role in shaping the EU Directives.  These critical laws that are now under threat.  In this guest blog, he outlines why the laws were created.

    Was the Birds Directive, and later the Habitats Directive adopted…

    • 1 Jul 2015