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.
The Tana River Delta on Kenya’s coast is at cross-roads. The massive pressure to exploit the area for growing sugar and biofuel crops amongst other development pressure is forcing an intense campaign to ensure that the delta’s peerless natural environment. We’ve been following the story here and here. For biofuels in particular, the pressure on land is mounting in Africa and European governments, including our own are not able to identify good sources from bad - a fundemental flaw in policy that risks a wave of damaging landuse change.
There is little doubt that the natural richness of the area is outstanding, local communities alongside Nature Kenya (with support from the RSPB) want to see necessary development in the area planned to ensure that the cost of smash and grab development isn’t measured in the inevitable loss of one of the world’s most important places for nature.
It’s not about no development – it’s about the right development shaped and led by the best information and with local communities at the heart of the process.
So it’s encouraging to hear that there are now steps to develop a plan for sustainable development for the delta. The devil, as always, will be in the detail and there is a tough struggle ahead for Nature Kenya’s campaign to ensure that the master plan does the job effectively and ends the era of bad planning and short-termism that has dogged the delta for years.
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Last week I was attending a meeting at our Rainham Marshes reserve, it was a good meeting but you don’t want to hear about that!
At the end of our discussions, we had a chance for a head-clearing walk around the reserve; it was a lovely day, until about ten minutes before the meeting’s end. And then the sky darkened – not just slightly, Lord of the Rings darkened. Black clouds with bulbous bottoms massed and down came the rain. We pressed on.
We made it to the Marshland Discovery zone. The rain slanted across the landscape obscuring all but the muddy-fringed pool in front of us. Two moorhens and coot were all we could see, until, entering stage right, a green sandpiper dropped in to land at the water’s edge.
Waders, I’m told, are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love ‘um. Their incredible journeys inspire us and their presence is always a sign that the place is special.
After a few minutes, we left the sandpiper pottering along the muddy fringe and trudged back though driving rain. A small flock of lapwings flickered over head heading out into the middle of the marshes to join many more.
Special birds, special places.
If it’s half term for you – get out and clear your head at Rainham or any of our other nature reserves.
And then, if that’s not enough, on 30 October, I hope you can join us in celebrating Feeds the Birds Day. This special day is a great chance to get the garden ready to help birds (and all the other wildlife) through the winter. This year, we’re running lots of Feed the Birds Day events across the UK both on the day and in the week leading up to it. Click here to find out more and I hope you can come along.
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A little while ago I wrote about the Our Rivers campaign – and I nominated the River Stour in Kent as both my favourite river (first kingfisher, masses of rivery memories) and I also nominated it as my candidate for most threatened.
Well here’s some positive news – the Environment Agency are planning action to tackle the phosphate pollution that makes part of the river a swirling mass of weed instead of the rich and varied chalk stream it should be.
There’s still time to vote for your favourite river and nominate your most threatened – and you can do that here.