• RSPB welcomes Beccy Speight as new CEO

    In August, the RSPB said goodbye to Mike Clarke after nine years as our Chief Executive, and we welcomed Beccy Speight to the role. In this blog, she introduces herself and shares some of her thoughts and aspirations.

    Hello, I'm very honoured to introduce myself as the new RSPB Chief Executive. I have most recently led the Woodland Trust – a job I enjoyed doing for over five years – and I am really excited to be continuing…

    • 17 Sep 2019
  • Another record Open Farm Sunday at Hope Farm

    RSPB's Hope Farm has run a successful LEAF Open Farm Sunday event for the last 5 years. Read on to hear from Hope Farm manager Georgie Bray on how 2019’s event went.

    “This could have been our first year of wash out rain but someone was looking down on us to help run yet another sunny sell-out event. With sun beaming, we joined hundreds of farmers across the country who opened their gates to the general public…

    • 21 Jun 2019
  • Future Farming Policies in Wales: Farmers are part of the solution, not the problem.

    With its green pastures, rolling hills and rugged highlands, Wales may seem like a lush country brimming with wildlife. However, look closer, and you’ll see that this is not quite the case.

    Sadly, Wales is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world. A third of Welsh birds are declining, and one in 14 species is under risk of extinction. Evidence shows that farmland nature is doing particularly badly…

    • 19 Jun 2019
  • Nature Friendly Farmers in Northern Ireland spread the word!

    David Sandford is Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network in Northern Ireland. Below he talks about what they have been up to recently to spread the messages about wildlife friendly farming.

    “Formed at the beginning of 2018, the Nature Friendly Farming Network aims to unite farmers from across the UK who are passionate about nature, wildlife and sustainable farming. Our aim is to champion a nature way of farming…

    • 17 Jun 2019
  • Dumfriesshire livestock farmer Michael Clarke explains why he joined the Nature Friendly Farming Network

    Michael Clarke farms Williamwood farm in Dumfriesshire in partnership with his wife, Shirley. They run a lowland, pasture-based beef and sheep enterprise alongside holiday cottages, in which they offer farm and wildlife-watching experiences. Michael is Scotland Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) and below he writes about his experiences and why he joined NFFN.

    "Farming is a bruising business. As livestock…

    • 14 Jun 2019
  • Spring visits at Hope Farm

    Sophie Mott

    The Spring brings a welcome warmth and sunshine to the farm, and with that come the visitors. Birds have been fledging young, flowers coming into bloom, and lots of species have been heard in full song across the farm. Because it is Hope Farm, the sound of people chattering about our conservation management has often been heard this spring too.

    Thank you for the Turtle Doves!

    To kick off visitor season, Hope…

    • 31 May 2019
  • Come to Hope Farm’s Open Farm Sunday

    Sunday 9 June, 10am - 4pm

    Open Farm Sunday at Hope Farm - Georgie Bray

    Each year, we join in with the national LEAF event, Open Farm Sunday. It is a fantastic thing to be involved with, getting members of the public engaged with where their food comes from in the UK. For us, it is an opportunity to open the Hope Farm gate and show the locals what we do to put food on the table whilst providing a home for wildlife. Attendance is FREE on 9th June, so there’s no…

    • 13 May 2019
  • Lots to learn from where birds are found on a farm this winter

    This last winter has been an interesting one at Hope Farm to see how farm management, the weather, and the interactions between these factors impact farmland birds. Last summer was a hard one for growing spring cereals with the dry weather, and we predicted that it would make for a harder winter on the birds that relied on cereal seed in winter bird seed mixes as their main food source. With that in mind, and looking…
    • 6 Mar 2019
  • Fire and managed burning in the English uplands

    Record high temperatures in late February have led to countryside fires in a number of areas right across the UK. Fiery images have made media headlines and led, especially at the time of year when managed burning is allowed, to heated discussion about the role of fire as a countryside management tool. Dry peatlands with a heavy fuel load, such as heather, are clearly a fire risk – so wouldn’t wetland management for moss…
    • 4 Mar 2019
  • What are Scottish producers’ perspectives on a Good Food Nation?

    Guest post from Anna Brand, Land Use Policy Officer for RSPB Scotland, explains more about an important opportunity for Scottish producers to engage with a new consultation from the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government are currently asking for views on proposed new laws for a Good Food Nation, ‘where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook…
    • 2 Mar 2019
  • Help woodland wildlife with the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit

    If you have woodland on the farm, managing it for wildlife is now easier thanks to the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit, a new web-based support tool for woodland managers, agents and advisers across Great Britain. Find out more
    • 1 Mar 2019
  • Recognition for Scotland’s Food & Farming Nature Ambassadors - Launch of the Nature of Scotland Awards 2019

    Launch of the Nature of Scotland Awards 2019 Are you a farmer or food business owner who’s committed to committed to nature conservation and environmental sustainability Scotland? RSPB Scotland will for a fourth year celebrate the significant contribution of the food and farming sector towards nature conservation in Scotland through the prestigious Nature of Scotland Awards.
    • 28 Feb 2019
  • New project in Wales will use grazing to improve habitats for wildlife

    Guest post by Rhys Evans, Policy Officer, RSPB Cymru

    Work is underway in Wales to restore an endangered section of our countryside - the Celtic rainforest.

    The Celtic Rainforests are regarded as the ‘temperate rainforests’ of Europe, owing to their open woodland structure, mild and humid conditions, and rich plant assemblages. These wet and humid forests - typically dominated by sessile oak, downy birch, ash and hazel…

    • 4 Feb 2019
  • Autumn Influences at Hope Farm

    Sophie Mott, Research intern at Hope Farm, provides an overview of the 2018 Autumn visits.

    January on the farm is a little quieter than the busy autumn preceding it. Which makes it a good time to reflect on autumnal visits to the farm, where organisations and individuals stretching from other sides of the globe have come to learn about wildlife friendly farming here, and why our principles are core to future farming in…

    • 31 Jan 2019
  • Catch us on Countryfile: hope for winter farmland birds

    Post from Georgie Bray, Hope Farm manager

    Tune into Countryfile this Sunday to find out how Hope Farm uses simple solutions to tackle a landscape scale problem for winter farmland bird survival... you don't want to miss it!

    Combatting the cold

    At this time of year, food availability (or lack of it) is the largest pressure on farmland bird populations as they require so much more energy in the colder months. Fortunately…

    • 11 Jan 2019
  • Big boots to fill at Hope Farm

    A new era starts at Hope Farm, with a new Farm Manager in place to oversee our continuing commitment to testing, trialling and demonstrating wildlife-friendly farming practices. Georgie Bray looks back over the progress on the farm in recent years, and her new role in taking it forward.
    • 18 Dec 2018
  • Gwent Levels Sustainable Land Management Project

    The Gwent Levels in South East Wales is one of the largest areas of reclaimed grassland in the UK and the largest in Wales. The creation and management of this landscape over hundreds of years has resulted in a unique landscape where nature has thrived alongside a variety of land uses including farming. This landscape is important for biodiversity, recreation, ecosystem services such as flood alleviation and carbon storage…
    • 26 Nov 2018
  • The twite are back in town!

    Twite are unique in that they only eat seeds, and rear their young on seed alone (many birds feed insects to their chicks). A good supply of small seeds of meadow plants such as dandelion, hawkbit and sorrel is critical to their survival. RSPB has been working in partnership with the National Trust, as well as other conservation partners and farmers to encourage the flowering and seeding of meadow plants to provide food…
    • 23 Nov 2018
  • Working for Waders across Scotland

    If you live in Scotland it is more than likely you will come across at least one species of wader when you are travelling around the countryside. Scotland holds a significant proportion of the UK population of curlews, redshanks, lapwings, oystercatchers and snipe. Whilst still relatively common, compared to other countries in the United Kingdom the numbers of many of these waders have declined significantly over the…
    • 21 Nov 2018
  • Getting down to business with wildlife friendly farming

    Georgie Bray, Assistant Manager at the RSPB's Hope Farm shares her experience of joining with other nature-friendly farmers at an event in Westminster to show that Nature Means Business

    Currently, the Ag Bill is being discussed amongst MP’s in the House of Commons, underlying one of the most changeable times in agricultural policy in the last half century. With discussions amongst MPs about the future of policy, comes…

    • 20 Nov 2018
  • Agriculture Bill: A step forward for nature but there’s still much to do

    Guest post from Tom Lancaster, Principal Policy Officer in the RSPB's Land Use Policy team

    The Agriculture Bill presents a once in a generation opportunity to secure a better future for wildlife, in a way that also secures the future of farming andproduction of more sustainable food. Tabled on 12 September, and now deep into the “Committee Stage” of the Parliamentary process, the Bill and the policy statement that…

    • 6 Nov 2018
  • Seeds of success: Working together in East County Down

    Guest blog by Seán Woods, RSPB NI’s east County Down Conservation Advisor working with over 70 farmers and landowners in and around Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland.

    Image: (c) Claire Barnett, RSPB

    The east County Down landscape is home to a large proportion of arable farmers with approximately 40% of farms being mixed or arable, compared to an average of 10% across Northern Ireland.

    • 6 Nov 2018
  • The Butterflies and the Bees - Hope Farm 2018

    Sophie Mott, Research intern at Hope Farm, provides the 2018 results of the butterfly and bee monitoring season.

    As you may have seen in an earlier post, the extreme weather of spring and summer 2018 meant a tough year for farmers and wildlife alike, notably for our birds. Territory holdings and breeding success suffered for many species across the farm and now we can only hope to support as many birds as possible through…

    • 1 Nov 2018
  • A helping hand for curlews in the South West

    Richard Archer, Senior Conservation Officer, explains more about protecting breeding curlews on the Somerset Levels

    The national decline in breeding curlews has been well publicised, especially on the upland moors, where most of the breeding pairs are. People are less aware that curlew still breed on lowland farmland, especially in damp, traditionally-managed hay meadows. Lowland England for example has over 260 breeding…

    • 31 Oct 2018
  • Agriculture Bill – things are about to get real

    Tom Lancaster, Principal Policy Officer, provides an update on the Agriculture Bill

    This week, the Government’s new Agriculture Bill will get its second reading in the Commons. As the first opportunity for MPs to debate the Bill, and all that it means for farming, food and the environment, this is a crucial milestone.
    With our partners in Greener UK and Wildlife and Countryside Link, we have published a briefing…

    • 9 Oct 2018