Blogger: Adam Murray, Communications Officer
Today, pretty much all RSPB staff from the Eastern region and a few volunteers came together to discuss what we will be doing for the next 8 years - until the big 2020! You may wonder what on earth this has got to do with you. Well, let me take it from the top and break it down into Adam-sized-chunks (for my poor brain to digest what happened).
Firstly, the loss on biodiversity on the planet is continuing, species are becoming extinct at a rate well above the base line level of extinction.
Nature is amazing. More than the economic value of the bee or the rare birds that bring in the twitchers travelling from one end of the country to another, spending their well earned cash along the way. Nature and everything in it - whether it is a bugs, birds or beasts have an intrinsic value. A value in just being.
As a species, we are having the biggest impact on the planet, more than any other.
We are also the solution to the problem - every single one of us.
If we weren't doing what we are doing at present and have been doing in the past - from those keen conservationists, the scientists, the campaigners and the person feeding their birds in their back garden - we would be in a lot worse state.
Species like the red kite - may no longer exist on our shores.
However, things are not going fast enough or at the scale that we can halt this loss in biodiversity and ideally reverse it.
We need to work together with partners, tool up an army of supporters so that they too can fight the fight. We need to be shouting all together with a united voice, shouting in the right direction at the right people.
We need well placed optimism with a sprinking of pessimism to keep us on our toes, to aim high and not stop until we have reached out goals.
We need to do this, we have a duty to do this, but importantly if we do do it, bloody hell will we feel better for it.
Living in a better world sounds good right?
So, looking forward to 2020. We need you, you need us, we need each other to make this happen. That my friend is why today's gathering of great like minded people should hit all the right buttons: it should worry us, inspire and grab us, shaking us into the realisation that now is the time to do your bit.
Thanks for taking the time to listen to my thoughts, let us carry on the conversation and tell me what you think. See you around, see you on Facebook, see you on Twitter. We are RSPB in the East.
Photo credit: Adam Murray
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Media Officer
We were shocked to hear the chancellor’s attack on vital wildlife rules in his autumn statement.
The chancellor bemoaned the burden of ‘endless social and environmental goals’ on industry and described the Habitats Regulations as a ‘ridiculous cost on British business’, claiming that they amounted to ‘gold plating’ on European legislation. Defra is now set to carry out a review of the regulations.
In the East of England, Habitats Regulations provide safeguards from uncontrolled development to wildlife sites of international importance such as, The Brecks in Norfolk and Suffolk, the Fens in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire and the Greater Thames in Essex.
Paul Forecast, our Regional Director, said: “These rules mean that major developments like ports, airports, roads and housing estates have to pass a series of tests before they are allowed to proceed, tests of genuinely sustainable development.
“The argument appears to be that in these financially tough times, economic growth must be placed above the needs of the environment.
“This is not only short sighted; it also betrays the huge economic value of the natural environment in the East which, time and time again, has been identified as a key economic driver for the area.
“And let’s be clear, the RSPB is not “anti-development”. Like everyone else, we want to see the economy back on track. But we have to proceed with wisdom. With careful planning, under the requirements of the regulations, developments can work with wildlife, and we have numerous examples of this here in the region.
“On the Norfolk/Suffolk border, for example, conservationists have worked hard with planners and developers to agree on way forward for the proposed dualling of the A11, where internationally important populations of stone curlew should now not be at risk. Pragmatic solutions are at the heart of many developments here in the East, including the Ouse Washes and the Thames Gateway, where the habitats regulations have been followed for the best outcome.”
What do you think? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.
Blogger: Adam Murray, Communication Officer
At the age of 11 I moved to Kent and was lucky enough to live in the Garden of England until I left for university to do zoology at the age of 18. Now that I live in beautiful East Anglia, like with all good conservation, it is good to see what your neighbours are doing. This latest story from my old stomping ground is worrying but good to see we have some great partners on board.
“A planning application for a 5,000 house development is likely to cause extensive damage to the area’s wildlife, says Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT), the RSPB and Buglife – the Invertebrate Conservation Trust.
A military site at Lodge Hill near Chattenden has been earmarked for a major housing development. The wildlife groups will object to the outline planning application because of the threat to important wildlife. The proposal will have a damaging impact on the immediate environment and the neighbouring wood, which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. For example, the site supports nationally important numbers of nightingales, a bird that has decreased by 60% in the past 15 years, as well as bats, lizards, grass snakes, adders, slow worms, newts, frogs, toads, badgers and rare insects.
Greg Hitchcock of KWT said, “Kent Wildlife Trust, Buglife and the RSPB all recognise the need for homes and jobs for people. Unfortunately the surveys undertaken fall short of accepted standards and the proposals to offset the environmental damage are not only inadequate, but inappropriate in places and contradictory in others.”
Sam Dawes of RSPB said, “It is outrageous that a development of this scale has been proposed on a site that is so important for some of our most iconic birds. Who has not been entranced by the song of the nightingale? The site is one of the most important in England for nightingales, and also supports many other dramatically declining birds”.
Sarah Henshall, Brownfield Conservation Officer of Buglife said “Previous studies of the site indicate that it could potentially be one of the most important sites in the UK for rare and endangered invertebrates including the shrill carder-bee. Invertebrates have largely been overlooked in the development plans - without proper surveys to find out what lives on the site how can they be protected?”
The application also fails to address the potential increased recreational disturbance by approximately 12,000 new residents to the internationally important wetlands of the Thames Medway and Swale.
“All three organisations understand the need for regeneration in North Kent, but believe this should not be at the expense of its much-loved wildlife,” said Sam Dawes. “We all work closely with Medway Council on nature conservation issues and are urging them to listen to our concerns”.
The RSPB, KWT and Buglife are calling for local people to object to the outline planning application by December 6th if they care about the future of North Kent’s wildlife.
So do this Kentish boy a favour and look over the border once in a while and see what is going on. We need to work together to get things done, on a small scale in our back yards to the big scale across the country. UK wildlife is amazing – help us keep it that way.
For further information please contact:
KWT: Greg Hitchcock, 01622 662012, email@example.com
RSPB: Rolf Williams, 07767 872585, firstname.lastname@example.org
Buglife: Sarah Henshall, 01733 201210, email@example.com
Blogger: Communications Officer Aggie Rothon
I am incredibly lucky to live where I do. If I leave my house in any direction I can always find myself surrounded by the magnificence of nature. So I’m not missing out, now that the nights are drawing in and I have had to reroute my after-work dog walk. These autumnal evenings we walk out through the shelter of the copse behind the house and out on to the open grassland beyond. These past weeks the sun has been a bright orange sphere on the horizon, nestling in to pillows of grey sky as day slides in to night. The grass sticks up in blonde tufts, almost glowing white in the dusky light and gathering teardrops on individual stems as the evening mists lower. The barn owls hunt here, quartering back and forth, and the kestrels sit in the fringe of trees trilling loudly to one another. In the summer, meadow buttercup and ox-eye daisy grow tangled with the grass and red deer lie hidden but for their craggy heads.
I’m lucky that I live right beside grassland like this, but they can be found all over our eastern counties. Sandy soils support acid grassland alongside heather heaths supporting leggy birds-foot trefoil and the delicate purple harebell. Wet grassland is a common site in the Broads, dotted with the pink stars of ragged robin or the fluffy heads of meadowsweet. And how fortunate we are to share open commons in our villages and rural hamlets.
The only trouble is we’re not looking after are grasslands very well these days. In fact we have actually lost 95% of our species rich grassland since the 1940’s. We’ve ploughed it up because we need to grow more crops and we have reseeded grasslands to make them faster growing and more consistent to produce better hay. But the biggest single cause of our loss of wildlife rich grassland is neglect. We’ve stopped cutting small areas of grassland for hay to feed a small number of animals and we’ve stopped keeping small numbers of animals to graze small areas of land. This means our grasslands all too easily revert to scrub and woodland as year upon year we overlook the need to graze or cut them.
Through looking at the bigger picture we often forget to look after what is under our noses, or round the corner from home. We don’t recognise that the small parts of the jigsaw that make up our countryside are what create our greater experience of the world. To maintain the things we take for granted; the barn owls, skylarks, the rainbow colours of our wild flowers we need to look after our local grasslands. If we all look after the jigsaw pieces, together we’ll complete the whole puzzle.
As featured in the EDP, Saturday 26 November
Now, I have to be honest, I’m not an avid golfer. The idea of trying to bash a tiny, dimpled sphere into a hole that is just a few millimeters wider and located over miles of dunes, lakes and bunkers just doesn’t appeal.
However, on a visit to see my parents in Kent, I do look on in envy as huddles of tank top wearing men and women spend their day slowly perambulating through a beautiful stretch of countryside right next door to my family home.
By another name, golf courses are just lovely green spaces, perfect for enjoying the sunshine, and wildlife, two things that I am very fond of.
So, how pleasing to hear that the New Malton Golf Club, set amongst 230 acres of peaceful and gently undulating Cambridgeshire countryside, has just been awarded a Green Apple award for the work they do to manage their land for wildlife.
Not content with just setting up a thriving golf business, they also set their sights on being the UK’s first chemical free, wildlife friendly golf course in the UK. And with a little bit of help from Nigel Symes, one of our land management advisors, they discovered lots of new ways to manage their land to provide a haven for both golfers and wildlife.
The course is attracting grey partridge, hare, barn owls, green woodpeckers and significant populations of farmland birds including skylarks, bullfinches, yellowhammers and yellow wagtails, all of which have been experiencing worrying drops in population in recent years.
So, when golfers are now heard to shout ‘birdie’ you no longer know if they have scored one, or seen one!
With such an inspiring story and an amazing commitment to wildlife, even I could be persuaded to give golf a chance, but more importantly, it is an inspiring example that helps us all see that conservation doesn’t have to be confined to nature reserves. There is so much we can all do to support nature, whether we own a golf course, or just have a little bit of garden to play with.
If, like New Malton golf course, you’d like to step up for nature, visit www.rspb.org.uk/hfw to sign up for regular, tailored advice and inspiring ideas on how to help wildlife in your garden.
Ok, so you may not get a shiny award, but you will be warmed by the knowledge that you have joined a growing army of people that are taking conservation into their own hands and helping to create a securer future for some of our favourite wildlife.