The recently launched State of Nature report has shown us the extent of the hardships facing wildlife in the UK. An estimated 60% of the UK’s species are in decline, something our Government has committed to halt. Around 75% of the English countryside is farmed, so farming in a way that looks after nature is one of the largest steps we can take to restoring our countryside’s wildlife.
Many of you have campaigned with us throughout the reforms to the CAP and now decisions are being made on how the new CAP will work at home.
You can have your voice heard and help get the best deal for our farmland wildlife by writing to your MP. Ask them to urge our Secretary of State for the Environment to pledge full funding for wildlife-friendly farming and take an ambitious approach to ‘greening’ our farmed environment. We expect him to finalise important decisions on this towards the end of July, so if you have 10 minutes to spare write to your MP now.
Many farmers across the UK are already doing fantastic things for wildlife through ‘agri-environment’ schemes, which provide support for farmers who use techniques that allow wildlife to survive and flourish on their farms. This support doesn’t just help wildlife; it also has a multiplier effect on the rural economy, delivering excellent value for public money and benefiting rural communities and the wider environment.
This money, which also supports much other investment in our rural economies, comes from ‘Rural Development’ funds – a small proportion of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the most important pot of funding available for conservation in the UK. In the European budget deal agreed earlier this year these funds suffered disproportionate cuts, but now there could also be an additional way to look after wildlife in our farmed environments.
Almost all farmers receive direct payments out of the remaining 75% of CAP funding (which provide few public benefits), but to qualify must meet some requirements, such as other EU rules on water and soil quality. The next CAP period will also include a new ‘greening’ requirement, meaning that a certain proportion of each farm will need to be managed for environmental benefit. If put into practice well this could provide a huge boost to wildlife across the EU because every farmer would have to take some basic measures, also securing much better public value from direct payments.
Our Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Paterson, has some important choices to make about both the new ‘greening’ requirements and how much funding to make available for wildlife-friendly farming schemes here in England. He can make direct payments work harder through an ambitious ‘greening’ programme and is allowed to transfer 15% of funds from the huge direct payment budget across to support our Rural Development Programme. These funds are already transferred in the current programme, so without them the Government will struggle to continue to support farmers who currently looking after our natural environment.
Here are a couple of points you could raise in your email:
You can find out who your MP is and their email address at http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/, or send your message through http://www.writetothem.com/. Got questions? Leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can help us monitor the progress of our campaign by sending a copy of your letter and any responses you get to the same email address.
Thanks for your support!
Children need nature for their health and wellbeing, their education, and the development of vital social skills. However, today's children are less connected to nature than ever before and they’re missing out on these benefits. An additional, disturbing, consequence is that they’re less likely to take action to save nature now and in the future.
A great tool that governments can use to help children develop a connection to nature is the national curriculum. Through this they can ensure there are opportunities for children to experience it firsthand, to learn about ecology and the environment, and about how humans can impact on nature.
As you may have seen in the press recently, the Department for Education is currently consulting on reforms to the national curriculum for 5-14 year-olds in England. You have the opportunity to respond until 16 April, and we’d encourage you to do so if you have 10 minutes to spare.
As you’ll see from the points below, there are wider implications for saving nature. Therefore, if you do respond, we’d like you to forward your response to your MP and ask them to write to Richard Benyon MP (Minister for Environment) to encourage the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to fully engage with the reform of the national curriculum.
Here are a few points you could raise in your response in relation to the draft programmes of study:
Given the scale of these challenges, we feel that additions must be made to the statutory requirements:
Please e-mail your response to the consultation to NationalCurriculum.CONSULTATION@education.gsi.gov.uk by 16 April.
To find out who your MP is and how to contact them you can visit the UK Parliament website, or you could use the Write to Them website. Please let us know if you’ve taken part by commenting on this post or by e-mailing email@example.com – we’d also be interested to see any replies you receive.
Thanks for your help!
Have you ever really thought about why you care about the natural world and our environment? Was there a particular moment or special person in your childhood and formative years that created that spark, captured your imagination and taught you to look at things differently?
I believe it’s vital to know why it is we do what we do, so we have a good understanding of how to create that spark in others and help build the next generation of environmental campaigners and natures heroes who will, like us, step up and fight for our wildlife and wider environment to ensure that generations after them have the right to enjoy what we have.
Like many of us, my passion and interest in the natural world was nurtured by my parents and I am so lucky in that respect. After pondering for some time I have somehow been able to pinpoint pretty much the exact moment that my spark was ignited and the fire in my belly to fight for environmental justice was lit.
It was a rainy February morning in Manchester and my mum dragged me out of bed. It was 1996 and I was a belligerent 15 year old. Reluctantly I got up and got dressed, slightly embarrassed that I might be seen heading into Manchester with my mum. Wearing my baggiest hooded top we set off to our ‘rendezvous point’ near Manchester Town Hall. We arrived and there were a handful of others waiting patiently for a coach. I asked my mum again where we were going, so convinced was she that I come along, and she told me “We’re all going to a place called Newbury. The government are trying to build a road through an area of beautiful countryside, and we are going to join others on a march and tell them, NO!”
Ok I thought, slightly non-plussed and got on the coach with about 50 others heading due south to a place I had never heard of before, but a place that would be etched into my consciousness for ever. After a journey of about 5 hours we arrived at our destination and I will never forget the sight I was met with. A police helicopter hovered in the air, whilst what looked like thousands of police gathered nearby, some in riot gear. My mum looked nervous, obviously not expecting this kind of hostile reception, I however was quite excited!
We joined the march with about 5,000 others carrying placards and banners, chanting and singing, a nice man gave me a whistle and we set off making as much noise as possible. After a while the march entered a woodland and hush descended across the crowd. This was a beautiful wood, carpeted with the first bluebells of spring and the last snowdrops of winter, birds were happily singing in the huge oak and ash trees. This was a special place. My mum told me that they were on the verge of bulldozing it to build a trunk road so people could save a few minutes off their journeys. I could not believe what she was saying, that this amazing area of countryside was directly under threat. As we continued the march through the woodland I saw something that I will never forget. In the tree canopy there were about 50 treehouses, skilfully built out of pallets and plywood, all interlinked with ladders and ropes. It was an amazing scene and a wave of cheering moved across the assembled crowd in support. I was amazed to see these activists making such a dedicated stand to protect this area of countryside, giving up so much to protect our natural heritage. These people were truly inspirational and I joined the rest of the crowd in shouting our approval to the tree tops!
The march ended peacefully and we boarded our coach back home. I was feeling such a mix of emotions. I was angry that this area of countryside was under such a grave threat of destruction but I was also so enthused by the passion and commitment of the protestors to try and save this special place. As soon as I got home, I wrote to my MP. After waiting over 4 weeks for a reply that never came, I went and knocked on his door as he lived in the same village as me. He looked surprised but quite impressed to see a 15 year old on his doorstep asking him why he had not responded to a letter about the Newbury Bypass. He promised me he would write to the Transport Secretary as soon as possible. In the months and years after this protest I felt emancipated and proud to stand up for the environment amongst my peers, when before I had not.
The rest is history. Devastatingly the Newbury Bypass was built and the beautiful wood was bulldozed. This battle was lost, but the war was won as the government scrapped their huge road building schemes for other special places amongst our countryside, performing a U-Turn on many more planned roads. This protest is also regularly cited as the spark that created a whole new environmental movement in the late nineties and early noughties. It certainly did with me, and since then I have not looked back. I went on to University to study Environmental Conservation and regularly volunteered and campaigned for various environmental organisations. I now find myself working as a campaigner for one of Europe’s largest Environmental Charities, standing up against environmental injustice and holding politicians accountable for their actions, mobilising and enabling others to really make a difference. It’s funny how things turn out, what would have happened if my mum didn’t drag me out of bed that rainy February morning? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but thanks anyway Mum!!
By Martin Abrams, RSPB Parliamentary Campaign Officer Photo: Martin at The Wave, SCC event
By now you’ve hopefully seen some of the promotion for our ‘Wake Up George’ campaign. We’re calling on the Chancellor, George Osborne, to wake up and use his Budget statement on 21 March to put the environment at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery.
We’re doing this because we’re concerned that recent public statements by the Chancellor are increasingly portraying the environment as a barrier to the UK’s economic recovery. In last November’s autumn economic statement, the Chancellor described hard-won legal protections for our most precious wildlife sites, as a “ridiculous cost on British business”.
We accept that the Chancellor needs to deliver economic growth and create jobs in the face of an enormous economic challenge. What we do not accept is that the environment is a barrier to success.
Instead of environmentally destructive and high carbon, we want sustainable growth that acknowledges the value of the natural world that sustains us. Instead of a Thames Estuary Airport that will destroy areas internationally acknowledged as important for wildlife and blow any chance we have of meeting our commitments to help avoid catastrophic climate change, we want the Chancellor to look to the London Gateway port development as an example of how infrastructure projects should be done.
Watch our short Wake Up George animation to see what things could be like if he takes a different view later this month. Then please step up for nature and e-mail the Chancellor to put the environment at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery.
If you’ve got an extra minute why not ask your friends to step up too by visiting www.rspb.org.uk/savingspecialplaces
If you’ve got an extra couple of minutes why not tweet your MP? If they’re on Twitter you can find them on Tweetminster. You can tweet what you like but we’ve prepared a couple if you just want to copy and paste:
Urge the Chancellor to put the environment at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery on 21 March #wakeupgeorge #budget2012 #RSPBsteppingup
Environment isn’t a barrier to growth. Urge Chancellor to put environment at heart of his Budget #wakeupgeorge #budget2012 #RSPBsteppingup
The environment underpins economic growth. Urge the Chancellor to remember that on 21 March #wakeupgeorge #budget2012 #RSPBsteppingup
After a public outcry Defra has dropped its proposal to trial the removal of adult buzzards and the destruction of their nests around pheasant release sites. A big thanks to everyone who stepped up and made their feelings known!
This is great news, but more needs to be done.
At a time when many UK birds of prey, not just buzzards, continue to suffer persecution, Defra could and should be doing more to ensure their future. It certainly shouldn’t create more obstacles to their recovery.
We now have an opportunity to keep up the momentum and achieve even more for all our birds of prey.
Please email or write to your MP and ask them to call on Defra to publicly state that no licences will be issued to kill any bird of prey to protect game birds or other livestock.
Find out more about how to take action.
Thanks for Stepping Up for Nature!