Some cuts never heal

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Mark Avery's blog

I'm the RSPB's Conservation Director. My aim with this blog will be to comment on matters of conservation importance and give you a few insights into the RSPB's conservation work - there's plenty to write about!

Some cuts never heal

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That's the message we are trying to get across to politicians ahead of the decisions on spending cuts which will be announced in October.

We are taking that message to decision-makers in lots of ways, but this week we have taken the message to the constituencies of the Secretary of State for Defra, Caroline Spelman, who has the difficult task of making the cuts demanded by The Treasury, Oliver Letwin who is a member of the Star Chamber which will decide the cuts (and who is generally sympathetic to the environment) and to the Chancellor, George Osborne, who probably has the biggest say in all of this.

Local farmers have enthusiastically allowed us to put up placards in their fields, there are cycles travelling around with signs, helium balloons, banners over the M6 and being unfurled from windows and lots of other things!

Here (below) is an example of a banner - this one on the roof of our visitor centre at Radipole!

In addition, we have placed adverts like the one above in publications as diverse as Private Eye, the Times and Guardian, the Spectator and elsewhere. 

A placard never saved a skylark - but a campaign can!  Add your voice to those of over 270,000 others in our Letter to the Future campaign.


  • That's nice Meconopsis had not noticed the mistake that might say as much about me as about you.This time you are funny without being controversial.

  • Concreter is far to expencive might be better with concrete !

  • Bob You are 100% correct all the grass margins have gone already and were really a complete waist of time, Lush grass never did anything for birds.

    If you do get to see the photo of the new pond you will notice it would swallow about 300 tonnes of concreter !

    Search flickr for hunterswind you will find it on about page 6.

  • Meconopsis,  I can't open the flicker page (IE8 has a lot to answer for) but I am sure that this is a great improvement.  Can I use this as an example of what I think Mark and the RSPB are saying.  You probably would not have spent the money next year because times are tight, but you are also unlikely to cover that same area in concrete for use as a patio.

    In a farming context a farmer might have put the pond in this year and, quite rightly received stewardship funding to do so.  Next year his funding is reduced so he won't put the pond in but at that stage nothing is lost (nothing is gained either).  That farmer has lost money so he is likely to plough over where the pond was going and sow wheat instead. Now we might have lost something.

    If we are going to keep the environment diverse for the future we do need to support those people we expect to do it on our behalf.

  • I spent over £1200.00 making a pond in my garden this spring. I have several new species of birds already visiting. It makes my day to look out of the bedroom windows with the binoculars to watch what is going on down there. Question is now my own money is getting tight would I have built the same pond next spring ??

  • Well we all agree in a matter of fashion it just takes a bit of discussion Mark and if we looked back a year it just seemed to be me and you disagreeing then thinking we agreed anyway so we have moved a long way forward and still find it surprising you basically allow us diverse views,so many thanks from me.

  • Sooty.  Well said

  • Hi Sooty

    Yes I plead guilty as charged of banging on about the B….. word in connection with TB.

    You say Mark sits on the fence – the RSPB doesn’t and hasn’t and everyone else assumes ALL RSPB members are signed up to whatever Mark / RSPB thinks is right.

    If Mark did sit on the fence and told every body that this was the case then the RSPB would no doubt be ‘excommunicated’ from the Wildlife & Countryside LINK group.

    The RSPB would first have to justify its change of policy to its fellow LINK members …!  But the RSPB isn’t independent, big or brave enough for it to do that despite its size, turnover, etc. - it’s a state of mind – it’s ‘safer’ in a pack!  "We all winge together".

    But Sooty …… I also keep banging about the RSPB (re-)thinking BIG in order to achieve ‘environmental / biodiversity nirvana’.  

    What I want to see is for all (ALL) farmers to ‘sign-up’ for most things the RSPB is attempting to achieve now and like the Green Party – the RSPB will achieve its mission when the RSPB is no longer required!

    A brilliant opportunity - being ‘misread’ at best and ‘mis-managed’ at worst - and quickly evaporating!


  • Sorry should have added Trimbush please lets not go down the route of farmer against RSPB route as we will all be losers especially wildlife and I personally think Mark is really rooting for farmers while trying to get what he wants.The Badger debate is really a separate issue and while I do not agree with them just as many see the Badger as innocent as number see it as guilty.Mark seems to sit on the fence which in the circumstances I find it hard for him to do anything else.Worse case scenario is farmers and RSPB to get in conflict as those farmers in for awards and lots like them get lots of pleasure from increasing bird numbers on their farms.  

  • Excellent points Mark,what a clever way of putting it that it doesn't seem fair to hand on to future generations a less rich environment.Now if only Gordon Brown had thought we must not pass on to a future generation a massive debt we might not have been so worried.

    Surprised the RSPB doesn't use some of its artists contacts to commission paintings of say Sea Eagle,Golden Eagle and perhaps others then sell prints,think there must be artists who would do it to promote themselves,perhaps even RSPB members.Perhaps it is not that easy but think lots of us would buy the prints.In these harder times maybe essential to look into such things.

    Think quite a lot of us understand the need for freebies to get new members but it seems in a way it is being abused by only being members for a short time to get the freebies but obviously do not know if figures prove this.  

  • If our environment suffers we will ALL suffer!

    Friends of the North Kent Marshes

  • Truly there’s no better ‘supporter’ of bird life’ than I – and I believe that any one who visits the RSPB website equally cares about bird life.

    Mark says “I don't remember any bird, mammal, insect or plant getting into debt but they may suffer greatly.  That doesn't seem very fair to me.  And it doesn't seem very fair if we hand on to future generations a less rich environment.  I guess that is a starting point for this discussion”

    Bob (P) – do you realise that the RSPB – with its deserved following of 1Millon – has a policy which outrageously impedes the livelihoods of many thousands of farmers and land owners in the SW of the UK – did you vote for it?

    The RSPB has an arable farm in East Anglia – about as far away from Badger TB as you can get(?)

    Mark has acquired a recently published book ‘Badger’ written by Prof Tim Roper (and is available on Amazon at less than £25).  Thank you Mark!  But unless Tim Roper has ‘new science’ he will not add very much to the debate – and – without me yet reading it – he may be tempted to believe non-peer reviewed reports - and this may, in turn, influence Mark and thence the RSPB.

    If Tim Roper knows the Truth (bTB-wise) then all’s well – but I fear he doesn’t!  Pro Tim is in danger of saying nothing or getting it wrong which is surely the subject of another more specialist book – not a classic book in the being – we shall see!

    Meconopsis – during the last week I met two women – one 50 – t’other 65 ish – lovely women – both had suffered from abuse and had been ‘battered’ by their respective spouses – the younger one had been abused by her father and brother at the age of THREE – she married – had children – and was ‘battered’. She lived in a refuge until her spouse discovered where she lived and sent ‘round druggies the beat her up!  Following a recent attack by her husband fracturing her skull – she now suffers from epilepsy. She has lived alone for just over 1 year – she met t’other lady in the refuge.  She has had her womb, etc removed following cancer (all the family - male and female have had it).

    She wanted - and I got her - a framed picture of a POPPY – meconopsis – funny that!

    Mark’s job is to promote the RSPB and I’m sure he’s bloody good at it and 300,000 or so ‘clicks’ is significant.     But ……..

    Do I back cash for the badger induced sick cattle and the battered and abused wives or get the wasteful DEFRA to support comfortable land owners sponsoring skylarks and lapwings?

    It really is time to get real

    • The Lifeboat has now been launched

    • Women & Children First!

    MAN is overboard!

  • I am sitting here stunned £4.8 TRILLION in debt. Lifeboats will soon be cut up for fuel better make a raft ! Now where are those old barrels.

  • Hi Mark, I think we should also email our local MP to put pressure on the Star Chamber, especially if they're coalition mps. My local MP recently opened the New Hide on our reserve and showed great interest and concern in the environment and conservation. I've sent  him a copy of the letter and added a bit of local interest to it. Keep up the pressure.


  • Sooty - I think the phrase 'our share of cuts' is the crucial one here.  I don't remember any bird, mammal, insect or plant getting into debt but they may suffer greatly.  That doesn't seem very fair to me.  And it doesn't seem very fair if we hand on to future generations a less rich environment.  I guess that is a starting point for this discussion.