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 to use my passion for the natural world by taking on this role.

I know the RSPB has a long history of working in the farmed landscape. Whether that be undertaking research to find out why our farmland wildlife is declining at such an alarming rate, or working with dedicated farmers to create habitats for wildlife on their farms, or indeed farming ourselves – on our reserves and on our flagship farm in Cambridgeshire. 70% of UK land is farmed, and so it is absolutely critical that we get the balance right, and do all we can to ensure that farmers have the support they need to successfully manage the land for livelihood and for people and wildlife.

I am particularly excited to hear all about the Nature Friendly Farming Network, and I look forward to meeting some of its members in the coming months and years. I hear it is going from strength to strength, and it fills me with optimism that so many innovative and passionate farmers are having their voices heard and helping shape vital policy frameworks.

I grew up in a Dorset village with four working family farms within it – now there are none.  My experience of working with farmers includes helping set up a farmer run farm shop enterprise on a National Trust estate and working with a group of farming ambassadors for the Woodland Trust, particularly to develop government support for agro-forestry approaches. My past experience also includes chairing the Food for Life catering mark standards committee for the Soil Association and I am delighted that the catering offer on RSPB reserves is signed up to this.

I am absolutely determined to continue to do all we can to reverse the decline in farmland wildlife and working with like-minded farmers is absolutely central to that aim. Whether you are a farmer yourself, and/or member of the RSPB, or just have an interest in our work in this area, I’d like to thank you for your support, particularly in this time of unprecedented change. Together we can make a difference!

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