• What’s driving change in the state of nature? A focus on the future

    On Good Friday, the sun shone and it was possible to believe that spring had arrived.  The sky above the fields near home were alive with the sound of skylark while bees were sleepily exploring the hedgerows which would soon be bursting into flower.  Nature seemed to be reasserting itself after the torpor of winter and it felt great to be alive.  

    My enthusiasm was not dampened by the weekend storms as we escaped to the…

    • 29 Mar 2016
  • What’s driving change in the state of nature? A focus on climate change

    In this second blog about the pressures on nature paper published yesterday (here), I move from farming to climate change.

    The new analysis shows that climate change is already the second biggest factor affecting wildlife across the UK. Yet the detail may be a surprise to some – climate change seems to be benefiting as many, if not slightly more, of our UK species than it is disadvantaging – hence this headline in today…

    • 24 Mar 2016
  • What’s driving change in the state of nature? A focus on farming

    Cast your mind back to May 2013. Summer was just beginning and I had the pleasure of being at the stunning Natural History Museum in London, with colleagues from across the nature conservation sector, government and business, listening to an impassioned speech from David Attenborough. This was the launch of our sector’s own State of Nature report (see here).

    The report was an important milestone. Twenty-five organisations…

    • 24 Mar 2016
  • Thoughts on this year's hen harrier breeding season

    It’s rapidly approaching the time of year when hen harriers will be setting up territories and attempting to breed. This is always a nerve wracking time for anyone who cares about these magnificent birds.

    We’re never quite sure where they will attempt to breed and, as last year so graphically illustrated (link), we definitely can’t be sure how things will pan out.

    Nesting depends on a variety of factors…

    • 23 Mar 2016
  • A view from the hills: reaction to new paper published on the environmental impacts of driven grouse shooting

    A curlew calling to welcome the spring is, to many, one of the most evocative sounds in nature. It is a sound that carries with it the hopes and expectations of everyone who cares about the future of our moorland and hills.  For someone living in the flatlands of the East of England, it also evokes in me a sense of wanderlust - a desire to get out into the hills.

    Yet, our internationally important curlew population is…

    • 21 Mar 2016
  • Reaction to 2016 Budget

    Back in November, there were fears that the Spending Review would result in deep cuts to the Defra budget in a Spending Review. In the end, new economic forecasts came to the rescue and handed the Chancellor £26 billion he didn’t know he had.  This led to something of a reprieve with Defra 'only' having to find 15% of savings (see here).

    Once again, with the rumours of a further £4 billion in spending…

    • 17 Mar 2016
  • Response to criticism about RSPB science on burning

    We are expecting reports tomorrow from the grouse industry funded group called 'You Forgot the Birds' criticising our science on burning. Here's our response...

    "In certain circumstances burning can be a legitimate management tool, but scientific evidence from the RSPB (see here) and a range of other sources shows that it must be used appropriately. Inappropriate burning on blanket peatland and protected…

    • 10 Mar 2016
  • UK membership of the EU: what it means for wildlife and what might happen if we leave

    Yesterday, I spoke at an event in Manchester on the UK in the EU.  It was an opportunity to inject an environmental dimension (see here) into the EU Referendum debate in the city where the result will be announced  on 24 June.

    My starting point was to say that the RSPB had always believed in international action: if we wanted to save just one species from extinction - say turtle dove (which we to address its 78% decline…

    • 9 Mar 2016
  • Species champions: guest blog by Dr Sarah Wollaston MP

    Last week, I highlighted a new partnership, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, designed to bring threatened species back from the brink (here).  This week, a similar partnership has launched a new MP Species Champion programme designed to raise the political profile of threatened species conservation.  Learning from experience in Scotland (see here) and a pilot in the south-west of England, the RSPB has once again joined…

    • 4 Mar 2016
  • Invasive non-native species week: why it make sense to "Check, Clean and Dry"

    To mark Invasive Species Week, I am delighted to welcome my colleague, Paul Walton (Head of Habitats and Species in Scotland) to offer his perspective on the impact of non-native invasive species on native wildlife and what we need to do about it.


    There has been a lot of discussion lately on Invasive Non-native Species (INNS) and their impacts. Whereas their impacts…

    • 3 Mar 2016
  • Funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit secured

    Last month, the RSPB's Head of Investigations, Bob Elliot wrote (here) about our fears about the future of the National Wildlife Crime Unit.  Thousands of people also signed a petition calling for long term funding for the Unit's work.  Today, Environment Minister Rory Stewart, in a written statement to the House Commons (here) confirmed government funding for the next four financial years.

    Responding to the announcement…

    • 2 Mar 2016