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.
I signed our Letter to the Future – if you did too, thank you, it’s been a successful campaign at a challenging time for the environment in the face of significant budget cuts, we were delighted that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced an 83% increase in the High Level Stewardship Scheme which rewards farmers for wildlife-friendly farming. This was one of our main advocacy aims and we know that your campaigning made a real difference.
But the spirit of LttF, as we call it in campaign central, will live on.
This beautiful image is made up of lots of names of people who signed LttF – (I’ve been looking for mine) we’ve produced this one - and others too - to celebrate the hand-in of 355,773 signatures to Downing Street.
The hand in is happening today at the start of a busy programme that will see the launch of the RSPB’s biggest campaign to date – Stepping Up for Nature.
What’s that all about? I hear you ask.
Well – In essence, it’s pretty simple. On all fronts, nature is in retreat both here, in the UK, and across the world. Despite commitments by Governments, including our own, the laudable aim of stopping the rot by 2010 was missed. Things are getting worse.
One obvious conclusion (well at least I hope it’s obvious) is that should not be a signal to give up. We’ve welcomed the agreement by the global community in Nagoya (the latest international conference on biodiversity met in the Japanese city) at the end of last year to re-set the target for 2020; to halt and reverse the decline of biodiversity.
Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, signed the UK up to this target.
Sorry, used the ‘b’ word – what I meant to say was a countryside richer in wildlife tomorrow than it is to day – a cherished natural environment that brings so much to us in terms of hard cash (think of the tourist industry) or giving us those valuable pillars of life (I probably should have called them ecosystems services) you know what I mean; soil, clean water, natural flood protection, pollination – nothing trivial. And over and above all of that just the sheer intrinsic importance to us of our individual, random, delightful, life-enhancing contacts with nature.
Fine, lovely, don’t over do it – we get how wonderful nature is we’re reading your blog, after all – what’s this campaign going to do about it?
We’re proud of our real conservation successes – but despite that nature is still going backwards, the solution does not, can not and never will lie in the hands of any one individual organisation – it’s not enough. Equally, Governments have a unique role to play – legislation and the scale of involvement that only the state can bring - but on its own, it’s not enough. And as we all know (it was the central thrust of LttF) Government is constrained in what it can do as the cuts begin to bite.
And then there’s you, and you; you, you and you and me. All of us. All making a difference – taking small steps for nature.
Our belief – our commitment – is to launch the only strategy that can have a realistic chance of getting to that world richer in wildlife in ten years time. One in which Governments step up – driven both by the realisation that the environment is more politically resonant now than perhaps at any time and that the recovery of our life support systems is ultimately in our own best interests.
One in which the RSPB steps up and looks to build support for what we do, to work in effective partnerships with those that can make a real difference.
One in which we all seek to step up in our own lives in ways that count.
Are you up for it?
Here’s what Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman has said in reaction to our announcement:
‘The natural environment is one of the areas where the Big Society can really make an impact. The RSPB is the Big Society in action, harnessing the passion, commitment and expertise of its one million members to achieve significant results for the natural environment, and I wish them every success in the most ambitious campaign in their 122 year history. By all working together – Government, business, communities and individuals – we can make a real difference to our country by reducing the loss of our many species and habitats.’
We’ll be updating the story as the day unfolds – so you can check back to this blog and do follow me on twitter.
Today’s launch event focuses on England – our campaigning in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will concentrate on the May elections – we’ll be updating you on these campaigns later in the month. By the summer, our plan is that the whole of the UK will be Stepping Up for Nature.
Unless The RSPB and other environmental groups bring the unchecked growth of the global human population into their campaigns - we will all ultimately be wasting our time. This planet has finite resources and habitats which are incompatible with infinite human population growth.