The clock is ticking! There are just a few days left to vote in this year's Telegraph Nature of Farming Award voting closes on 5 of September.Encouraging wildlife This important award recognises the hard work and tireless effort of many farmers in the UK who encourage wildlife onto their land.From over 300 entrants, four farmers have been chosen to face the public vote, in the hope of being named the UK’s Most Wildlife Friendly Farmer 2012.One of those farmers to make it through to the final four is Peter Knight. Peter has managed the Norfolk Estate in Arundel, West Sussex for the last 24 years, and in that time the estate has blossomed into a haven for local wildlife. Butterflies, including the rare Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary, feed on the pollen rich crops, while brown hares have flourished in the spring crops, reaching a total of 520 last winter!Here Peter shares his motivations for farming for wildlife.
The Nature of Farming Award is the UK's largest wildlife farming award, and is immensely valuable for spreading the word about the benefits of farming for nature as well as commercial success.Over the past five years the award has helped strengthened the link between the RSPB and farmers, by spreading positive messages about wildlife-friendly farming.The award also has the added benefit of raising public awareness about the importance of wildlife-friendly farming.It is particularly important this year, as funding for wildlife-friendly farming is being reviewed as part of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.The only finalist from the South East, Peter also explains why funding from Agri-environment schemes is so important to him, and all farmers.
All farming = wildlife friendly!Peter, the other UK finalists, regional and country winners and highly commended farmers in this year's Nature of Farming Award all demonstrate a wide variety of farming systems, showing that all farming can be wildlife-friendly.So, if you think Peter has encouraged wildlife to flourish on his farm and deserves to be crowned this year’s Most Wildlife Friendly Farmer, take a couple of minutes vote for him online before 5 September.
Vote, vote, vote!Encourage as many people as possible to visit the website and vote for Peter too.By voting, you could also be in with the chance to win a luxury spa break for two!The Nature of Farming award is supported by Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and The Telegraph. It is funded by the EU Life+ programme which aims to safeguard the future of farmland birds under the EU Birds Directive.
There’s no denying it. Sometimes fundraising can seem like an uphill struggle – a constant stream of budgets and applications. But it’s the outcome of this process that more than makes up for the effort. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you realise you are responsible for bringing in a pot of money that is essential for RSPB to carry out it’s vital work. You feel a real part of the change needed to save nature for us all.So, a bit about the role I play as a Project Fundraising Officer...Project Fundraising is all about raising money from sources such as the lottery, landfill trusts, charitable trusts and the business world. As a team, we usually raise ‘restricted income’, which means that we apply for money to fund a specific project. When we receive the money, it must be spent on what we have detailed in the application – it is ‘restricted’ to that project - and we have to provide reports to prove this to the funders.As with most of the jobs within such a large nature conservation charity, no two days are the same. I can be based in the office one day, putting together an application for a European funding stream, or out on one of our reserves another day, showing a funder exactly what their money has been spent on. The variety is invigorating and ensures that I always have plenty to keep me busy. One of the most exciting projects I have been working on since I started at RSPB in 2011 is a large multi-partner funding application that was submitted to a European funding source in March. RSPB is one of 14 organisations (from both the UK and France) that are working together on this project to protect marine and shoreline areas across the English Channel. The application took months to put together – each organisation having to detail what work they would carry out and provide detailed budgets of the money they needed. It was hard work and there were lots of challenges along the way but the outcome was fantastic.We found out in June that the application had been successful.For RSPB that means that we have vital money to help the populations of little terns (pictured below) at RSPB’s Langstone Harbour Reserve. It also means we can work together with a wide range of organisations to protect the channel region and ensure future generations have a world richer in nature and wildlife.As well as working alongside such fantastic colleagues, celebrating success is definitely a high point of being a Project Fundraising Officer and I’m lucky to work in a team where we have lots of opportunities to celebrate!
Little tern, by Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
There’s either not enough of it or too much, but then it’s the wrong kind or in the wrong place.
WATER! It seems it’s barely out of the news with a constant stream (pardon the pun) of advice about what you should do.
One minute there’s a drought and hosepipe bans and the next the heavens open and we’re dealing with severe floods.
So what’s it all about?
Temperatures are rising and even with strong action, under a ‘best case’ scenario, the global temperature will still rise by 2°C.
In the UK, this means longer dry spells in summer and warmer, wetter winters.
But despite what’s happening in the wider environment, it’s easy to take water for granted with a constant supply on tap direct to our homes.
However by using water more wisely in our homes, gardens and workplaces, we can do our bit to help to ease the pressure on our wetlands and rivers.
Saving water will ensure more stable, resilient habitats for the birds and other wildlife that depend on wet places for their survival.
We’re often told about the more obvious savings: collecting rainwater to use in your garden, turning off the tap when you brush your teeth and using washing machine cycles that use less water.
But what about the hidden connections?
It’s not just about the water coming out of our pipes. Water is used in the production of all sorts of products too.
Known as ‘embedded’ water, this makes up about 70% of our usage and comes from other nations whose goods we import.
Most of it is in our food - a tomato has about 13 litres of water embedded in it, a hamburger has about 2400 litres!
Some food production in arid countries relies on unsustainable sources of water, which in turn shrinks wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them.
By asking questions and choosing carefully when you shop you’ll be helping tackle water stress overseas as well as at home.
Find out more about how you can Step up For Nature by saving water.
We highlighted in a recent post that Tesco have partnered with the RSPB to protect our tropical rainforests. To raise funds for the Together For Trees campaign we have been invited to hold bucket-collections outside some of their stores in the south east on 21st and 22nd September. If you’d like to help it's not too late to volunteer, the video on this page explains more about the work that's already started - and includes a link for you to register. Any experienced bucket-collection volunteer will tell you that getting someone to stop and talk to you is the first hurdle to negotiate. Your opening line is important, but establishing a presence is perhaps more so. The RSPB's Senior Community Fundraiser Nic Willett has much experience in this area and has some suggestions for how to raise your profile for a collection. It's time to get creative!Creating a unique outfit for your collection-day will not only help draw attention to yourself and increase donations, it's also likely to make you feel more confident. And what's more, once you have constructed your costume you'll have a ready-made solution for your next fancy dress party!Make your own bird costume wings
You can make these from any spare fabric, but it needs to be quite rigid. The wings in the photo below are made of party satin, stiffened with iron-on bonding, which reduces fraying (a bit of fraying will add nicely to the feathery effect though). There is a separate layer of black net that gives them a textured effect.
Draw symmetrical feather shapes in four sizes on the back of a cereal packet and cut out. All sizes specified are approximates, large (36cm long), medium (31 cm), small (27 cm) and weenie (15 cm)!
On the wrong side of the fabric (use two or more different coloured fabrics if you can), trace around your feather shapes with a biro. Draw your feathers as close together as possible so that you don’t waste any fabric. For each wing, you will need two large, 12 medium, eight small and four weenie-sized feathers.
Cut out your feather shapes and lay them face down on to the netting. Pin then on to the net, as close together as possible to reduce waste. For especially authentic looking feathers, you now add an optional feather quill. You can do this by zigzag sewing corset boning with a sewing machine; you can buy boning by the metre in your local haberdashers. Cut the boning into lengths just shorter that the feather shapes. You may need to iron the boning on a cool setting to straighten it out. Using a zigzag stitch, sew the boning onto the net-side of each of the feather shapes. The feathers can then be cut out again.
Arrange your feathers into a perfect wing shape and pin together. You need your wings to be nice and symmetrical so turn the whole wing over and use the back of the first wing as a pattern for the front of the other wing, or you can make a card template. The last step is to sew the feathers of each wing together. With a sewing machine, zigzag stitch along the boning quills where your feathers overlap.
Now that you have two beautiful wings you can tack them in four or five places to a jacket sleeve – you can remove them later if you wish. First safety pin the feathers on so you can try the jacket on before stitching the wings. Ask someone to help you at this stage – they can re-pin the wings so they sit beautifully.
To have pre-cut patterns posted to you please email firstname.lastname@example.orgYou've got five weeks until the collections so that's plenty of time to create your outfit. Don't forget to send us your photos so we can share them with the RSPB online community. Who knows, your outfit may just inspire someone else to volunteer to raise money for this essential work.
We’ve got some more fantastic ideas to share with you next time so keep an eye on this blog. Perhaps you have your own ideas and would like to share them with the community? What will you be wearing at your collection?
There was a time when the weather governed the farming year, but now the day-to-day decisions made by farmers are influenced greatly by UK and European Union agricultural policies.
The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the framework of payments and subsidies under which farmers across the European Union operate, and it has a huge influence on how land is farmed across Europe: http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/farming/policy/capolicy/index.aspx
As 70% of the UK’s land is farmed, the CAP seriously affects our wildlife.
Since the Second World War, farmers have been encouraged to produce larger quantities of 'cheap' food by the CAP. Most farmers have been powerless to buck the strong economic signals sent by agricultural policies, which, perversely, have also failed to keep many of them farming.
Food is a major economic product of our countryside, and policies which concentrate on food production have made it increasingly difficult for much of our farmland wildlife to survive.
Currently, the CAP is largely failing to support and encourage more environmentally-friendly farming.
The vast majority of the CAP’s taxpayer-funded €1 billion a week budget does not deliver benefits for the environment and neglects vitally important systems of wildlife-friendly farming.
The RSPB is campaigning for policies that provide a fair deal for farmers, consumers and wildlife.
We want to see sustainable farming that provides safe, healthy, affordable food, protects and enhances the environment and its wildlife, supports diverse and attractive landscapes and contributes to a thriving rural economy.
And perhaps now is our chance to make this happen! The CAP is currently being reformed and, for the first time ever, the European Parliament shares decision-making powers with Heads of State.
At the moment, the proposals for reform do not do nearly enough to protect the natural environment (the bedrock of food production) nor to ensure wildlife-friendly farmers are properly rewarded for the excellent work they do for the environment alongside food production.
This means that our Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), elected to represent our views at the European level, need to step up and grasp this vital opportunity to shape the CAP for the good of the environment, farming and society.
To help our wildlife-friendly farmers get a fair deal and allow them to continue the excellent work they do for the environment alongside food production, please e-mail your MEP to ask them to do all they can to ensure the CAP rewards wildlife-friendly farming: http://campaigning.rspb.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=13&ea.campaign.id=14317
The CAP should be helping farmers to produce the food we all need in a sustainable way as well as providing a countryside rich in wildlife.
There doesn’t need to be a choice between food and the environment; hundreds of wildlife-friendly farmers have already shown that we can have profitable farms that are full of wildlife.
One such farmer is Peter Knight from the Norfolk Estate, Arundel. European agri-environment funding is very important to the Estate, with over 20 different management options being used to implement the environmental work.
This financial support is vital for Peter to look after wildlife and the environment while running a productive arable and sheep farm.
Peter is a real ambassador for farming in the 21st century – running a sound commercial business with conservation at its core, which is one of the reasons he has made it to the final four of the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award.
We believe he deserves to be crowned the UK’s most wildlife-friendly farmer in 2012. But to do that, he needs your vote: http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/farming/natureoffarming/peterknight.aspx
By voting, you help the RSPB fight for a fair deal for wildlife-friendly farmers. And you might even win a luxury break for two people worth over £500! Find out more here http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/farming/natureoffarming/prize_draw.aspx
The EU LIFE+ Programme funds RSPB work which supports wildlife-friendly farming that furthers sustainable development in the European Union