A couple of weeks ago - around the time I was watching a red squirrel dancing in the trees in the Pyrenees - the RSPB launched a new campaign designed to raise the political profile of nature conservation.
Through our 'Vote for Bob' campaign we want to tap into people's latent concern about wildlife and inspire them to act in a way that encourages politicians to do the things that people care about and that nature needs.
Yes, its figurehead is a red squirrel but the objective of the campaign is to encourage politicians, in the run up to next May's General Election, to make significant manifesto commitments to save nature.
Returning from my holiday, I have been delighted by the surge of support that Bob has received. More than 65,000 people have already pledged their support including a number of politicians.
At times during the economic crisis, saving nature has been seen by some as an optional extra and a ‘nice to have’ - a minority interest rather than something that is demanded by many and essential for all.
This is why over the coming weeks we will be finding innovative ways to reach out to many more people and will be publicly demonstrating the strength of support for 'Bob' and therefore for nature.
The RSPB has always campaigned for change. We were born out of the ambition to challenge laws that allowed the killing of wild birds for fashion. We have a long history of trying to influence change in attitudes, behaviour, policy and legislation: from campaigning to end the use of DDT and the wild bird trade, to arguing successfully for new laws to protect our finest wildlife sites and to tackle climate change. Campaigning is part of our heritage.
Yet, for us to have greater impact, we need to find ways of mobilising people we know are behind us, but who need to be presented with the right way to join in. And that is where 'Bob' comes in.
The more people back Bob, the easier it should be for Bob's political allies within the parties to make the case for strong commitments to nature in manifestos.
That's why I'm backing Bob and I urge you to do so as well.
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