Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle, Senior Community Fundraiser
Have you seen our RSPB pin badge boxes in your local area? The little green boxes perch on counters in garden centres, coffee shops, hotels and pubs, proudly displaying their lovely enamel wares. For the suggested donation of £1 you can be the proud owner of one of over 50 current badge designs from tawny owl to killer whales.
These fabulous little badges do more for conservation than just letting people show their support for the RSPB by wearing their favourite species. The money generated from these lovely badges in their little boxes is a serious amount. Last year, across the whole of the UK, we raised £694,501 from pin badges. This money covers areas that we can’t traditionally get funding for, whether it’s for creating homes for otters on our reserves, providing bug hotels for children to make at one of our events or paying the running costs of our visitor toilet facilities! RSPB wouldn’t be able to achieve as much as it does without this money coming in.
In Eastern England we raised over £86,000 from pin badges last year and we are lucky enough to have around 350 long-term volunteers who service our pin badge boxes once a month to top up the boxes, collect the money and bank it for us.
We are always looking for fresh locations for our pin badge boxes and new volunteers to join our pin badge family, so if you have a bright idea for a site that would be good or would like to have a round of boxes yourself, please get in touch. The money you collect from looking after these boxes makes a real difference and amounts to such a large figure – all those £1s work together to make sure we can continue to give nature a home.
Get in touch with Matt Howard with your pin badge ideas or to find out more. Matt.Howard@rspb.org.uk or 01603 697515.
Blogger: Rachael Murray, Project Officer
I’m off on holiday to Turkey next week, and ever since I passed that tantalisingly irreversible milestone of booking my flight, I have been pondering what I will wear on my ‘tropical’ adventure. With blue skies and wall to wall sunshine in mind, my list consisted of tiny vest tops, shorts and flip flops...bliss!
So, imagine my dismay when the day came to check the weather forecast to verify my sun soaked assumptions, and I discovered that there will be rain, more rain, a touch of drizzle, with a bit of lightning thrown in for good measure.
Well. Way to (literally) rain on my parade.
But before I got too resentful, I encouraged myself to reflect on how grateful I should be. Both for the luxury of going on holiday, but more importantly, that our lovely planet gets regular rain showers at all. I set myself the task of thinking about some of the brilliant things about rain, and this is what I came up with:
It strikes me that there’s a theme here – where there is water, there is happy, abundant life. There’s just no escaping it, rain is flipping marvellous.
I am going to bear this in mind as we move towards a good old British summer, facing the possibility that it might be as precipitation filled as last year. And since Turkey hasn’t escaped the same fate it seems, I’m off to dig out my cagoule and a pair of travel friendly wellies!
Why not let us know what you love about rain by leaving a comment below!
Image by Andy Hay (RSPB images)
Blogger: Phil Pearson, Conservation Officer
Hintlesham Woods, one of the largest blocks of ancient woodland in Suffolk and part of the RSPB’s Wolves Wood Reserve, has received considerable attention over the past twelve to eighteen months. The reason is this: despite it being a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the trees, plants and birds that it supports, National Grid were exploring options that would see a significant area of the wood removed to allow a new overhead power line to be constructed.
As a result the RSPB campaigned vigorously to ensure that any new overhead lines avoided this nationally important woodland. Many people supported our efforts and, thanks in no small part to everyone who wrote to National Grid, options were identified that run the power line around the wood rather than through it. On 19 February, National Grid confirmed a route that will not see a new overhead power line constructed through the wood.
Great. Job done! We’ve protected the woods and the wildlife it supports – or have we? The answer: maybe.
The National Grid is still to finalise its detailed route which means the woods could still be affected by their plans. The RSPB doesn’t want to see any of the woodland impacted. As a result we are following developments closely over the coming months to ensure that National Grid do not consider options that will see the loss of trees on the edge of the woodland.
Some may say that losing a few trees will not have any significant impacts, but the RSPB considers that any loss of woodland wouldn’t be acceptable. Why?
Well firstly, we are dealing with ancient woodland here. As highlighted by the Woodland Trust, this type of habitat is irreplaceable. It is not possible to simply plant trees on a new site and claim that this provides a suitable replacement, as the woodland that develops will depend on the soil, water availability, and other factors that enable plant and tree species that are typical of ancient woodlands to thrive.
What’s more, Hintlesham Woods is a SSSI. This indicates that the site is nationally important and there must be a presumption that such sites should not be damaged, especially where alternatives exist. Even a small amount of change on the edge of the wood could allow increased noise, light or other factors to penetrate further into the woodland. This can increase disturbance and result in species that have a preference for larger blocks of woodland to be displaced. The RSPB has worked hard to manage the woodland for species such as marsh tit which have declined significantly over the past twenty years. Anything that could jeopardise the effectiveness of our management for such species would not be acceptable.
So, whilst the RSPB is supportive of National Grid’s recognition of the importance of Hintlesham Woods in their current plans, we are now looking for a final commitment that there will be no damage at all from their proposed scheme. We continue to discuss the project with National Grid through stakeholder groups, and will be reviewing information later in the year that will be submitted for public consultation. At that time we would be grateful for the support of as many people as possible, hopefully to show appreciation for how National Grid have addressed wildlife impacts around this site rather than defending the site from damage once more.
Yesterday evening I suddenly became irritated. Lying on the sofa surfing through TV channels finding nothing I wanted to watch, I suddenly became aware of the mess. The children’s toys scattered across the floor, the geranium leaves and crumbs of compost on the floor, the cobwebs in the corners of the room. Previously unaware of the growing chaos around me, I decided at that moment to spring clean.
I can proudly declare the house to be far cleaner and tidier now. The armies of toys are still there but where they were once spread around haphazardly they are now jammed behind the straining doors of a cupboard. And I’m no longer irritated; out of sight, out of mind.
Human being’s, as a rule, are very good at pretending things not to be the case; denial I guess it’s called. With things like tidying toys I don’t think it matters too much but it does matter when we start denying other stuff; the terrible state of our ecosystem and environment for example.
Chatting to a marine biologist from the RSPB’s HQ the other day he said, ‘if we stripped our coast and sea’s of their water, people would be devastated by the destruction we have caused.’ But those crashing waves, just like my cupboard doors, hide the mess that lies beneath.
Yet we’re not oblivious to the marine environments plight either. We know that in 1925 the average size of a cod was more than 1m in length; giant fish cruising deep through the Atlantic. Today however the average size of a cod is just 40 cm, less than half the size they once were. This is the result of years of unsustainable fishery practices, consisting of catching as much large size cod as possible. As only small cods were left in the oceans, the next generations became smaller and smaller in size and in population. Moreover, the current EU legislation allows fishermen to fish 35cm large cods in EU waters, below the average size at which the species reproduce. The Marine Conservation Society explains that the size at which 50% of females first spawn is approximately 60 to 70 cm.
88% of fish stocks are harvested beyond their ecological capacity, like the cod, whereas less fishing pressure today would allow stocks to recover, delivering greater sizes in the future. However, it is likely that the European Parliament and Council are going to delete measures ensuring sustainability in fisheries from the Commission’s proposal. On the contrary, both institutions declare intentions of increasing fishing capacity. The risk is a deep decrease in fish stocks resulting in the collapse of the fisheries sector and a high level of unemployment for fishermen.
I could be irritated by the government allowing the devastation of our sea life just like I was about the mess at home. But I’m not irritated, I am utterly astounded. The good news is however that the RSPB are, as ever, fighting the battle to get our seas the protection that they desperately need. You can go here for more information and to find out how you can help www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/. If we all open our eyes to how threatened our marine environment is perhaps we can take action and try to clear up the mess we are making.
Blog by Tara Proud, RSPB Species Recovery Officer
Each spring thousands of migrant birds cross Malta on their way to breeding grounds in Europe, and some of them even choose the UK as their summer home. In Malta, hunting birds is a cultural tradition, and although there are laws in place to govern when shooting can be carried out, a huge amount of protected birds are illegally killed. Our partners at BirdLife Malta are campaigning and working on the ground to stop illegal hunters who flout the rules and continue to kill protected birds.One of the most common birds targeted by hunters is the turtle dove, a species on the verge of extinction in the UK and with a group of conservation bodies, including the RSPB, pulling out all the stops to save it. Find out more about Operation Turtle Dove here. For more on this story, have a look at this article on BBC Nature to see some images from Malta, but be warned, some of them are quite graphic and pretty heartbreaking too.
Sadly, Malta is just one of many countries across the Europe where species such as turtle doves are sought after quarry species for hunters, other include Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, and Portugal.