Ynys-hir RSPB reserve, view from Ynys Eidiol hide

In brief 2017-2018

Four short stories which illustrate the breadth of our work during 2017-18.

The icing on the cake for our cafés

When you visit one of our nature reserve cafés, you can now be sure that healthy choices are even easier to make, and that what you’re eating and drinking is not only good for the planet but also for animal welfare. 

All 11 of our cafés that were eligible for the Food For Life Served Here scheme have successfully achieved these awards. Our new café at Sherwood Forest will also be part of the scheme, which is run by the Soil Association, and celebrates sustainable, locally sourced, GM- and additive-free food which meets animal welfare standards and makes healthy living easy.

As a conservation charity, we’re keen to lead by example when it comes to serving food that makes a difference. This means reducing the impact of our nature reserve catering on the environment and seeking to support local businesses and nature-friendly farms. For example, at our Minsmere reserve in Suffolk, the fresh milk we use comes from a dairy just 12 miles away. While in South Wales, the organic eggs, bacon and sausages served at the Newport Wetlands café are supplied by local family farms. 

Twirlywoos help kids discover nature

In 2018, the RSPB joined forces with CBeebies favourites the Twirlywoos to encourage young children to engage with nature by taking part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch. Schools that submitted their results were entered into a prize draw to win a visit from the colourful characters and the children at Christ Church Infant and Nursery School in Newark were the lucky winners.

Chickedy and Chick presented the children with their Birdwatch certificate and helped to launch their Wild Challenge adventure by taking part in a number of activities, including feeding birds and planting for wildlife.

Donna Cobb, a teacher at the school said: “We were delighted to welcome the Twirlywoos to our school – the children loved meeting Chickedy and Chick. Taking part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch was a great way of getting the children outdoors and interested in the birds around them. We have now registered to take part in the RSPB’s Wild Challenge and we’re looking forward to learning how we can help wildlife in our school grounds.”

Raising awareness of Asian hornets

During Invasive Species Week, the RSPB joined forces with other organisations to raise awareness of invasive non-native species and inspire people to help stop their spread.

2017 saw the spotlight fall on Asian hornets, which are native to South Asia. These large insects hitched a ride in a shipping container bound for France in 2004, and the species quickly became established over most of France and northern Spain. In 2016, the first Asian hornet was spotted in the UK.

Asian hornets are predators of other insects, especially bumblebees and other pollinators, and so can cause massive ecological damage. However, if nests are detected quickly enough, there is a real chance we can prevent establishment in the UK.

We have been sharing this message on our website and social media and encouraging people to report sightings via the national invasive species website. By contributing their sightings, our supporters are contributing to genuinely effective conservation action.

Going for gold with Aldi

Since 2015 we’ve been working with the discount supermarket Aldi, using £2 million raised from its plastic bag levy.

This funding has allowed us to deliver more than 330,000 connection to nature experiences to children through interactive 90-minute sessions. These were given at more than 1,500 schools in 17 cities across Great Britain and a whopping 85% of children surveyed said they wanted to spend more time outside in nature after taking part. It's incredibly encouraging to hear that so many young people want to turn off the TV and spend more time outside.

Through the RSPB's Wild Challenge programme, which is supported by Aldi, children and their families have also taken more than 44,000 actions for nature in their local areas. From feeding the birds to growing flowers, each Wild Challenge activity is designed to encourage children to help wildlife, explore nature and have fun – while earning awards in the process!  

To find out more about Wild Challenge and our work with Aldi, visit rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge.