• Why SSSIs aren't fit to frack

    Last week, former US Vice President Al Gore was the latest (here) to question the wisdom of fracking in our finest wildlife sites yet in my discussions at Labour and Lib Dem conferences over the past couple of weeks there seems to be some confusion about what is actually happening.

    With a string of Westminster Government announcements and consultations in recent months, as well as a u-turn or two to boot, the situation…

    • 30 Sep 2015
  • Back to the Future at the Labour Party Conference

    Week two of party conference season and we're now in sunny Brighton with the Labour Party.  Last night, it was my pleasure to introduce Rt Hon Hilary Benn at a reception organised by WWF, The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB.  Mr Benn is now Shadow Foreign Secretary but was, of course, Environment Secretary during the last Labour Government.

    The Coalition Government inherited and respected much of Mr Benn’s legacy...…

    • 28 Sep 2015
  • Hail the Natural Capital Committee Mark 2

    We covered a lot of ground at a well attended fringe event with the Liberal Democrats yesterday - from fracking on SSSIs, to housing policy, spending cuts and Europe.  As a party they are clearly finding their road to recovery, but they have a stake in many of the issues that are relevant today not least because they were live when they were part of the coalition government.

    For example, the Natural Capital Committee…

    • 23 Sep 2015
  • Happy 50th to RSPB Arne

    The party conference season has started and so I am in Bournemouth with the Liberal Democrats. Over the next month, starting here in Bournemouth, and then in Brighton with Labour, Manchester with the Conservatives and Aberdeen with SNP, RSPB staff will be encouraging politicians to use their voice for nature, defend the EU Nature Directives and ensure that there is sufficient resource available to restore landscapes for…

    • 21 Sep 2015
  • Reflections on the hen harrier season

    As the hen harrier season comes to an end, I thought I'd welcome Bea Ayling, the RSPB's hen harrier officer, to give her reflections on the season.

    Whilst hiking in the Pentland Hills last weekend, enjoying the fresh smell of the blooming heather after the rain and the stunning views over Edinburgh, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Not because the summer is coming to an end, but because I knew, yet again hen harriers…

    • 19 Sep 2015
  • A tale of two W's: Wallasea Island and Walshaw Moor

    I’ve spent the last few days focussing on the relationship between the European Union and the future of our wildlife and the special places that they call home here in the UK.

    Last week European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and Biodiversity Minister Rory Stewart helped us to celebrate a significant milestone in our Wallasea Island Wild Coast project in Essex. This event marked the completion of the first…

    • 18 Sep 2015
  • Power to the people and getting the best value from public money

    I attended the excellent launch of the Wildlife and Countryside Link visions for food and farming and for water today.

    Secretary of State, Liz Truss, offered a response and I was again struck by the emphasis that she placed on data and the importance of volunteers to both collect the data and be empowered it use it to act for conservation.

    We are a nation of naturalists and we should be proud of the quality of the datasets…

    • 16 Sep 2015
  • In for a Penny … Under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 charity membership may mean more than you bargained for (guest blog by Carol Day)


    On Friday, Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife, visited our Headquarters at the Lodge.  We went for a walk about the reserve, saw a pair of Hobbies enjoyed the sunshine and put in the world to rights.  In passing, we discussed imminent changes to the Judicial Review system - the very system that we used to overturn the Government's decision to cull up to a fifth of Lesser Black Backed Gull population on the Ribble…

    • 15 Sep 2015
  • In Parliament: a reflection on yesterday's RSPB summer reception

    Late yesterday afternoon, I was walking with a colleague, Matt Williams, very quickly along the banks of the Thames.  I had just left the RSPB's Parliamentary Reception and was due to talk to our Central London Members' Group but it had been suggested that I visit a new sculpture on the Thames.  I was a bit worried about the time, late as I always was for the evening talk, so we walked a bit quicker. As we approached…

    • 11 Sep 2015
  • A matter of opinion - guest blog from RSPB Chief Executive Mike Clarke

    Further to my blog on Monday (herewhere I referenced recent debates about how best to inspire action for nature, here are some thoughts from the RSPB's Chief Executive Mike Clarke


    Chris Packham’s piece in the most recent issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine, in which he challenges a number of nature conservation organisations, including the RSPB…

    • 10 Sep 2015
  • How to win

    Murray Edwards College Cambridge last week hosted the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE).  My grapevine* tells me it was a lively event, bringing together academics and others in the relatively new field of the 'environmental humanities' (such as the Open University's 'Stories of Change' project).  BBC Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin's closing…

    • 7 Sep 2015
  • The 2015 Spending Review: what's at stake and why it pays to invest in nature

    While some of us have been off on our summer holidays, spare a thought for those civil servants that were tasked with developing departmental spending bids over the past six weeks.

    In late July, the Chancellor George Osborne charged non-protected departments with producing plans for 25% and 40% cuts in their resource budgets and that these plans should be submitted by 4 September ie today!

    Defra is one such department…

    • 4 Sep 2015