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.
You know the feeling. You're close to the top of a hill or even a ladder. You reach the top and look
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.
At last I’ve got a few moments to reflect on yesterday’s hectic activities in London as we
Quite often over the past six months I’ve asked you to Step Up for Nature . It may have passed you by (I hope not) but I know many of you have taken steps to help save the special places that are a vital part of our natural world.
This blog helped launch Stepping Up for Nature back in March ... and I had the chance to help publicise the event on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme. And if you fancy a news update - here's something we put together to celebrate our 1 millionth step.
Well, I’m thrilled to be able to tell you that since then, over a million steps for nature have already been taken. That’s one step every 18 seconds. Wow, huge pat on the back, that’s no mean feat! And it’s only a start.
To refresh your memories, there are countless ways you can step up for nature. In the past six months, you might have bought something from one of our shops, fed garden birds, e-mailed government in response to their flawed proposals to change England’s planning system, donated money to save northern rockhopper penguins affected by an oil spill in Tristan da Cunha, taken part in Make Your Nature Count, put up nest boxes or perhaps you volunteer for the RSPB. And of course being a member is one huge step for nature conservation in itself.
Some of you will have been stepping up without even knowing it!
Well, I just want to take a moment to thank you for your support without which we couldn’t even begin to try to tackle the catastrophic declines in bird species and other wildlife, and the damage and destruction of their habitats. With your help we’ve been able to help turn around the fortunes of wildlife like bitterns, corncrakes, stone curlews and great yellow bumblebees.
Every small step we each take as individuals can make a big difference, if everyone acts together nature stands a chance.
The massive amount of support we’ve already received, and look set to continue receiving, will send a clear message to the Government across the UK – they, too, have an essential role to play and we all have an important role in keeping politicians true to their commitments.
And if you fancy taking a step right now, you can by signing the pledge calling on our ministers to help safeguard our seabirds at sea now – here’s how . Protecting the best bits of our marine environment should seem like a basic first step given the rich natural environment that is hidden beneath our seas – but inaction has followed inaction over three decades, effective protection of our marine environment is a real test of commitment for all of our Governments across the UK, a real test of their ability to step up for nature.
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A year ago we launched Stepping Up for Nature in London ... with launches later in the year in Edinburgh