• Time for change: a comment on the parliamentary debate on the future of grouse shooting

    Part of our democratic tradition is the right to protest and the freedom of expression.  Charities have a rich and long history of influencing change in policy, law, attitudes and behaviour - the RSPB's own campaigning roots date back to our origins in 1889 and the ultimately successful campaign against the use of feathers in the hat trade while we also fought a decade long battle to ban the use of DDTs - a class of pesticides…

    • 1 Nov 2016
  • "Look at the birds of the air"

    Earlier this year, a colleague was ferreting among the RSPB archives and stumbled across a crest made to mark the RSPB's centenary with the words "Respicite aves coeli" written underneath.  My Latin is not great and I had assumed that it meant respect the birds of the air, but in fact it means "look at the birds of the air" and is taken from the Bible, Matthew 6 verse 26.  This phrase was also incorporated…

    • 31 Oct 2016
  • MP Species Champions Project Goes From Strength to Strength

    I am on holiday this week and so I have arranged one or two guest blogs.  Today, I have asked my colleague Pip Goodwin to provide an update of our parliamentary species champions project.

    Last month we were reminded that many species are still in trouble; the State of Nature report  showed that over the last 50 years, 56% of species have declined, while more than one in ten are at risk of disappearing from our shores altogether…

    • 24 Oct 2016
  • Good news for a Friday: seabirds recover on Scilly

    This time last week, I was making my first trip to the Isles of Scilly for 43 years.  I was there to see the impact of our joint Seabird Recovery Project.  

    This project matters because the UK hosts a significant proportion of the world and European populations of two species: the European storm petrel and the Manx shearwater.  Scilly’s population of storm petrel is the only colony in England while the islands are also…

    • 21 Oct 2016
  • The future of driven grouse shooting

    The much anticipated debate on the future of driven grouse shooting will take place on 31 October.

    To inform this debate, called for by over 123,000 people who signed Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting, MPs have invited people to submit evidence about the impact of the industry.  Our evidence will be made public later this week and my colleague, Jeff Knott, will be giving oral evidence tomorrow…

    • 17 Oct 2016
  • On the road for this year's party conference season: fourth stop Glasgow with the Scottish National Party

    For nearly twenty years, the RSPB has worked with the politicians in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to benefit wildlife and the environment by influencing those areas of public policy that have been devolved to Stormont, Holyrood and the Sennedd.

    Yet the profile and prominence of SNP has clearly grown and the party has a significant stake in the work of the Westminster Parliament.

    That’s why our Westminster parliamentary…

    • 16 Oct 2016
  • Ducking the issue

    To continue the marine theme this week I've asked my colleague Rory Crawford to provide an update on seaduck conservation.

    Image courtesy of Julius Morkūnas.

    There are many things that famously herald the arrival of autumn: golden leaves, shortening days, cooler mornings, the explosion of fungi, the departure of swallows, the arrival of honking geese overhead, and the arrival of our marvellous wintering seaducks…

    • 14 Oct 2016
  • The case for designating marine conservation zones for seabirds

    I am heading off to Cornwall later today to visit our south west team today to catch up on the work we are doing at the coast to recover the chough population and am then popping across to the Scilly Isles to catch up on our seabird recovery programme.  So, it seems a good time to put a spotlight on coastal and marine conservation issues.  

    Getting away from the landlocked counties of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire will…

    • 12 Oct 2016
  • The Great Repeal Bill and what it means for nature

    This morning, I was part of a panel giving oral evidence* to the Environmental Audit Committee on the subject of “the Future of the Natural Environment after the EU Referendum”.  Since we submitted our written evidence, the Brexit process has become a little bit clearer and I was not surprised that we were asked about the implications of the Great Repeal Bill.

    The Great Repeal Bill needs to set us on the…

    • 12 Oct 2016
  • Highlights from this year’s AGM

    A few hundred RSPB members and staff met in Birmingham on Saturday for the 125th AGM* of the RSPB. 

    As ever, it was a great opportunity to hear RSPB highlights from the past year, to meet up with some old friends and to learn something new.

    My highlights were...

    ...celebrating the outstanding contribution to nature conservation of this year’s RSPB Medal winner, Professor Dame Georgina Mace.  From assessing species…

    • 10 Oct 2016
  • Good news for a Friday (2): evidence of how collaboration can help achieve Sustainable Development Goals

    A highlight for me this week was emerging from my sick-bed to attend an event at the Zoological Society of London.  The RSPB had joined forces with ZSL, WWF, Christian Aid and CAFOD to profile and discuss how we can integrate human development and environment ambitions.  

    It was inspirational to hear examples of how partnerships with business, local communities and governments were transforming lives and landscapes in some…

    • 7 Oct 2016
  • Good news for a Friday (1): future funding for wildlife friendly farming

    A heavy cold has slowed me down this week, so it has taken me a little time to respond to all the news emerging from the Conservative Party Conference.

    As the legislative process for Brexit became clearer, more certainty emerged regarding the future funding for wildlife friendly farming (provided by agri environment schemes).  Thanks to an announcement this week by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, we now know that that agreements…

    • 7 Oct 2016
  • On the road for this year's party conference season: third stop Birmingham with the Conservative Party

    Having attended the Liberal Democrat and Labour Party Conferences, I’m handing over to my boss, Mike Clarke, who will speak at our fringe event in Birmingham for the Conservative Party Conference alongside some good friends from the Wildlife Trusts and WWF.

    Although I won't be in Birmingham this week, I shall be interested to hear how Andrea Leadsom, the new Secretary of State at Defra, will follow up her speech…

    • 3 Oct 2016
  • Our shared vision for the future of farming and the countryside

    Listening to the news this week, I’m beginning to wonder whether we will ever run out of words to prefix ‘Brexit’ with – hard Brexit, messy Brexit, soft Brexit, clean Brexit.  I know that Brexit is meant to mean Brexit, but after a while, given the complexities associated with leaving the EU, the word begins to lose all meaning.

    At the risk of adding to the prefix pile though, I would argue that…

    • 1 Oct 2016