After 17 fantastic years (the last ten on the Management Board) I am going to leave the RSPB at the end of May.

But, I am not going far, because from 7 June I will be BirdLife International’s new Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

For those of you that don’t know, BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation Partnership made up of >100 grassroots, national conservation organisations with millions of supporters worldwide.  As the UK partner, the RSPB works with and through BirdLife partners on the vast majority of its international advocacy and operations ranging from the Albatross Task Force to our work in Gola in West Africa.

The European and Central Asia region includes partners as far north as Iceland and as far east as Kazakhstan.  It’s home to 540 regularly occurring wild bird species with 70 of global conservation concern.  The pressures wildlife faces here are familiar – habitat loss and degradation especially from agriculture, the introduction of non-native invasive species, overexploitation (including through illegal killing), pollution and climate change.  And, of course, despite the heightened profile of the nature and climate emergency, the political response across the region is currently insufficient. 

As the UN launches its Decade of Restoration, the challenge (and it a huge challenge), will be to harness and grow the collective capacity of the >40 partners – including the RSPB - to ensure the region leads the world in nature’s protection and restoration.   The need for collaboration remains essential across the whole region because while 27 partners are part of the European Union, the region’s nature and the threats it faces are shared by all.

It will be a wrench to leave the RSPB and all my brilliant colleagues, but I have absolutely no doubt that under Beccy Speight’s leadership, the RSPB will go from strength to strength. In fact, part of my new job will be to help the RSPB, like all BirdLife partners, maximise its impact. 

There is a lot to do, but it is a challenge that I relish.

For the next two months though, I shall continue to focus on the RSPB and help Beccy with the transition.  Plans for recruiting my successor will be shared in due course.  Do look out for the ad because it is a fabulous job.

Image of Arctic tern - which features in the BirdLife logo - courtesy of Louise Greenhorn (rspb-images.com)

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