Chief Executive's welcome
This year has been one of progress, with achievements made during turbulent times.
Introduction from Dr Mike Clarke
RSPB Chief Executive
Our achievements are notable: we celebrated acquiring Franchises Lodge in the New Forest – one of our most exciting nature reserves in recent years. Our conservation ambitions continue to grow, with the RSPB helping to launch Back from the Brink, a project to save 20 species facing extinction, supported by £4.6 million from the National Lottery. And at last, there's some good news from Cyprus, where illegal trapping of songbirds on the British Bases fell by more than 70%.
However, nature is still in trouble. The UK remains one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with more than one in seven species facing extinction, and more than half in decline. Whilst the threats to nature intensify, charities are navigating a period of political flux and changing regulations on fundraising, data and campaigning. Within this context, we've focused on three key areas.
First, our priority has been to connect with you, our supporters. We had a hugely heartwarming response to our "Say Yes" campaign, to ensure that we can keep in contact with you and remain compliant with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). With our membership numbers holding strong at 1,219,308, 91% of those of you that responded said "Yes" to hearing from us. GDPR has been a huge challenge, as with all charities, and your support for the work we do and the difference we make is humbling.
Second, we campaigned with partners to ensure the legal protections for nature are not weakened as the UK leaves the EU. It's the biggest change in a generation, and vital that we are engaged in the future of the laws and legal system that underpin nature conservation.
Finally, we're ensuring the RSPB is adapting in changing times, and we're as efficient and effective as we can be. This means refocusing our work so we can make the biggest impact for nature, investing in partnerships to magnify our collective impact, and making savings and changes to how we work to ensure financial resilience in an uncertain world.
Next year is going to be as crucial for nature as any since the RSPB was founded. All UK governments must ensure environmental protection remains at least as robust as it has been within the EU. In 2020, China hosts the UN Summit on Biodiversity, setting the global conservation agenda for years to come. Its success requires leadership at home. If we get it right here, we can inspire the world to act.
Thank you to our members, partners, volunteers and supporters. We couldn't have achieved what we did this year without you. We've had enormous impact over our 130-year history because we've changed with the times, responding to the greatest threats to our natural world. More than ever, we need to continue to act and speak out for nature. With a clear focus and backed by all of you, we can face challenge and change with confidence.