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  • Blog Post: What future does farming hold?

    British farmers should not expect a future free from regulation if they are going to tackle food security and environmental challenges, according to RSPB conservation director Mark Avery. This remark was made in response to a question from a farmer in the audience who was keen to see regulations...
  • Blog Post: Corn buntings show farmers the way

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time in a cold muddy field in Bedfordshire this week. Why? Well I did ask myself that a couple of times as I rubbed my frozen hands. But then a large flock of corn buntings would take off from amongst the stubble and dart nervously towards the cover of trees and...
  • Blog Post: Will farmers see the lark ascending?

    Yesterday the great and the good of the farming industry packed into a chilly barn on the border of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire to get very enthusiastic about saving wildlife. There was enthusiastic talk of changing the way our countryside is farmed to help protect birds, and admissions from...
  • Blog Post: The true cost of GM food

    The ever controversial issue of GM food has reared its head again in the news this week. The papers have responded to a report from the Food Standards Agency and Defra with stories about the supermarkets ending their GM ban and calls for a proper national debate on the issue . The arguments...
  • Blog Post: Burying our differences for wildlife

    It’s fair to say that we, as conservationists, have sometimes had a tricky relationship with rural landowners. In the past if there has been an argument about wildlife in the British countryside, the RSPB and the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) were often to be found on opposite...
  • Blog Post: Food for Thought

    So what are you having for dinner tonight? Something adventurous from Jamie Oliver’s latest bestselling cookbook? A quick and easy supermarket frozen meal? Or maybe it’s fish and chips night in your house this evening. Whatever you’re eating there’s one thing you can be...
  • Blog Post: Cirl buntings lead the way

    Farmland birds have not had the smoothest ride in recent decades. Populations of skylarks, yellowhammers, lapwings and grey partridges have all been declining for several years. But the fight back may be starting in a tiny far flung corner of the country where a small brown and yellow bird is clawing...
  • Blog Post: Postcard from the Oxford Farming Conference

    Farmers, it is often noted, are early risers. But as well as getting up at the crack of dawn to plough their fields, it seems they also start the new year early - before everyone else has even finished the leftover Christmas pud in fact. Yesterday I returned from the three day Oxford Farming Conference...
  • Blog Post: Climate quandries down on the farm

    I just had the pleasure of an afternoon’s stroll through Hope Farm , the RSPB’s working arable farm in Cambridgeshire. Hope Farm is a model of how farmers can reap rich dividends for biodiversity – by including many wildlife-friendly features on their farms – while turning a profitable...
  • Blog Post: Climate change and farming – more than just more carbon dioxide

    Guest blog from Ellie Crane, RSPB Agriculture Policy Officer Arable farming is arguably one of the economic sectors most sensitive to climate change. It is also a very versatile sector: farmers have always had to respond to change. Modern farming looks quite different from early agriculture, but one...
  • Blog Post: Log jams and early flowering willow take on climate change in the Scottish Borders

    From Jim Densham, Senior Land use Policy Officer, RSPB Scotland Anyone guess what this is? Is it a playground climbing frame? Or a 3-Day-Eventing hurdle from the Olympics? No - it’s a bar apex log jam. And it’s a simple, cost effective measure that farmers in the Scottish borders are using...
  • Blog Post: Biofuels – a u-turn at last?

    For the last couple of years, the RSPB and many other NGOs have been campaigning against biofuel targets. One of my favourite moments was when we ran this advert in the national press. Great ad, made even better by the fact that a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency about it was rejected...
  • Blog Post: Lab chops for supper, gentlemen?

    Further thoughts on food and climate from Heather Ducharme, RSPB Senior Climate Change Policy Officer Our summer issue of Birds magazine featured an article on ‘shopping for sun bears’ – charming inhabitants of tropical forests in south-east Asia that are menaced by forest clearance...
  • Blog Post: Silence in the skies

    Skylarks : UK Priority Species The superb, soaring, melodious flight of the skylark Alauda arvensis, the harbinger of sunshine, is an increasingly rare sound across the UK, and not just because of our bad weather. Skylark populations are declining in almost all countries of northern and western Europe...
  • Blog Post: Falling in the fields

    Turtle Doves A glimmer of hope? After receiving numerous complaints regarding the depressing content of my blog and several wishes for a post about a species which we can feel positive about. One which we can sit back, with our feet up, and feel secure in the knowledge that in the International year...
  • Blog Post: A corn bunting's cornucopia

    The original bunting... Corn buntings are farmland specialists, found mainly in cereal growing areas, where they nest on the ground, typically in thick grass or cereal crops. Once upon a time, the word ‘bunting’ was used to endearingly describe a plump or thickset person. It is easy to see...
  • Blog Post: Producing food, producing wildlife

    The RSPB's South West Regional Policy Officer Mark Robins considers the challenges of food security ... With ever more people on the planet, with oil prices set in only one long term direction, with the impacts of climate change driving extreme weather events, depleted soil and water resources...
  • Blog Post: Stepping up for farming in the West Country

    A couple of weeks ago the RSPB launched its new campaign. Called “Stepping up for Nature” it’s premise is simple. Targets to halt biodiversity decline by 2010 were not met, but we will learn from this make sure we halt losses by 2020. To do this we need to focus our efforts globally...
  • Blog Post: Proving it is possible to produce more food whilst improving our environment...

    This week I have been focussing on the launch of the Green Food Project, and how we meet the challenges of producing more food whilst also improving our environment. There are no easy answers, but it is possible to achieve both. In the 12 years that we have owned Hope Farm , we have increased profitability...
  • Blog Post: What state the UK's birds?

    Today sees the publication of The state of the UK’s birds 2011 . As ever, this aims to serve as a one-stop shop for the latest news on our bird populations. This year’s report has a particular focus on our waterbirds and the sites they use, noting that this year is the 40th anniversary...
  • Blog Post: Hope springs eternal

    One of the joys of starting a new job is to be able to inherit the success of others. Hope Farm is perhaps one of my predecessors' great legacies. Bought in 2001, thanks to the generosity of RSPB members, we have managed to demonstrate that it is possible to run a profitable arable farm and restore...
  • Blog Post: Speaking up for nature

    At times it’s felt like we’ve dominated the BBC this week! It’s been so ‘newsworthy’, today I’m going to reflect on some of our main stories from the past few days. We have been completely floored by the rumour circulating in Brussels that funding for wildlife-friendly...
  • Blog Post: Rumours and speculation?

    Yesterday I highlighted the threats to Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy. The rumours that Pillar 2 may be scrapped are continuing to circulate – you may have seen me on the BBC (about 22 mins in) yesterday talking about it. Some of the journalists we spoke to approached the EU Commission...
  • Blog Post: I like eating meat but not this week...

    It’s probably a odd way to start a blog about National Vegetarian Week with the statement “I like eating meat” but I make no apologies, it’s true! So why have we pulled meat from the menu at the Lodge canteen today? The facts around meat production, and its effects on the natural...
  • Blog Post: Being Lord Voldemort

    I spent yesterday at the Cereals Show near Sleaford. Yes, I know, you envy my glamorous lifestyle. I went along to the Oxford Farming Conference debate on CAP reform and market volatility. After a while, I felt a little strange. Something wasn't quite right. I heard three oblique references to...