This blog is where you can read about the places we work to protect and the people on the front line. The scope of this blog covers planning, the policies and legal framework that exists to protect the best places for wildlife and of, of course, the individual cases that are the daily work of staff across the UK. We help BirdLife International partners overseas – and you will be able to read contributions from Europe and further afield.
Of course – probably of the best way to save a site is to a acquire it as a nature reserve – this blog will sometimes feature our reserves and the role they play in future of our wildlife, but the full story of the RSPBs network of nature reserves is told elsewhere: http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves
This blog features the contributions of many individuals – I will have the pleasure of holding the ring and acting as the narrator to this compelling story. So a little about me; I’m Andre Farrar and my first active involvement with the RSPB was in the late 1970s as a volunteer with our Leeds Local Group http://www.rspb.org.uk/groups/leeds.
I was one of many who wrote to their MPs as part of the campaign to get the best outcome for what became the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). It wasn’t perfect but it was a good start. Thirty years on, I’m still in the thick of it campaigning for our protected areas and special places for wildlife. Are we winning? Read on and find out, and see how you can help.
This blog is filled with references to some of the top sites for wildlife in the UK, Europe or even at a global scale.
But this weekend the focus is on that special place close to our own backdoors. Our gardens. It’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend!
How many of us have had a lifetime’s interest sparked by getting to know the birds and wildlife we share our gardens with? Jack (who’s five) was watching BBC Breakfast this morning when Big Garden Birdwatch came up – ‘Oh Daddy, we’ve got to do Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend’ – pretty much sums it up really!
So have a relaxed hour with your family and help make this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch the best yet!
One theme that should stand out from this blog is that protected areas are extremely important places! In the European Union, wildlife legislation – in the form of the Birds and Habitats Directives – has enabled real gains to be made for wildlife.
Yet wildlife in these protected areas, along with the rest of life on this planet, faces the unprecedented challenge of climate change. What will be the role of protected area networks in the face of wildlife populations responding to find their optimum climatic conditions?
Any strategy for the future must start from what we have today – and our protected areas are the best places for wildlife now. The Birds and Habitats Directives have, at their core, the ability to designate sites (forming the Natura 2000 network throughout the EU) – but the protected area stuff (though crucial) is just one part of the range of measures set out in the legislation.
Change is inevitable – and the response, both in terms of the management of protected areas and increasing their extent will build in resilience that will be crucial to the ability of species to adapt and survive. Habitat creation is a vital means of extending the area available to wildlife - our Wallasea Island Wild Coast project (pictured)is a good example of this approach in action.
We are convinced that the Birds and Habitat’s Directives, if interpreted correctly and fully implemented, provide further potential to ensure species and habitats have the best chances of adapting to climate change.
If you would like to read more about this topic, my colleagues Andrew Dodd, Alice Hardiman, Kate Jennings and Gwyn Williams have written ‘Protected Areas and Climate Change: Reflections from a Practitioners Perspective’ published in the Utrecht Law Review.
In the time of foot and mouth, when the countryside was closed I visited Dungeness. It felt like half the population of Kent was clinging to the furthest extremity of the county, evicted from more familiar landscapes.
Dungeness is not like other places. A tiny railway a huge nuclear power station and, in their season, alive with birds.
Here’s a compelling evocation of the place – part of BBC Radio 4’s Nature series. Paul Evans tells the story of this world of shingle.
The RSPB has been part of the Dungeness story for over 100 years and we are still campaigning to protect this special place from harm – you can read about our opposition to plans to expand Lydd Airport here.