Speaking out for nature in the UK
This year proved that if enough people make their voices heard, we can achieve great things for nature.
Saving the Nature Directives
The EU Nature Directives have formed the foundations of nature protection across the EU for more than 35 years and underpin a huge amount of the UK’s domestic wildlife legislation.
These vital laws protect threatened species, such as bitterns and otters, and help to safeguard an area 13 times the size of Greater London. More than 90% of us live within 15 miles of a protected site, so the Directives have a direct impact on us all.
Back in 2015, it looked like the Directives could be weakened when the European Commission ran a consultation on their future. We joined forces with environmental organisations across Europe to form an unprecedented coalition and, together, we launched a campaign to defend the Directives.
More than half a million people rose up with us in support of the laws protecting nature, and a hundred thousand of those voices – the majority of them RSPB members – came from the UK.
In December 2016, wildlife across Europe got an early Christmas present when all EU member states agreed that the Nature Directives were fit for purpose. This was a fantastic victory for nature, made possible in no small part by our supporters. Thank you.
Engaging with MPs
Here in the UK, our defence of the Nature Directives sets a firm challenge to our governments to maintain and build upon these world-leading laws as we negotiate our future relationship with the EU.
We are determined to keep wildlife on the political agenda so, shortly after the Referendum, we embarked on an initiative to raise the profile of wildlife among decision-makers.
Together with 12 other leading environmental groups we established the Greener UK coalition and called on MPs to support our Pledge for the Environment.
Encouragingly, more than a third of the MPs in Parliament at the time signed up.
The battle for Lodge Hill
The financial year ended with another battle still in the balance.
Lodge Hill in Kent is the most important site in the UK for nightingales, which have declined by 90% in 50 years, but Medway Council wants to develop the site.
That would pave the way for one of the largest ever losses of a protected site in Britain.
We encouraged our supporters to make their voices heard during a public consultation and the council received more than 10,000 emails telling it not to include Lodge Hill in its Local Plan for development.
If 5,000 houses are built at the site, it would undermine the Government's own tests for preventing damaging development on every other Site of Special Scientific Interest in England, meaning that they too could be at risk.
We await the results of the consultation.
Show the Love 2017
Finally, in February, we participated in a campaign organised by our partners in The Climate Coalition to raise awareness of the threats to nature from climate change.
"Show the Love" events took place at more than 350 venues across the UK, including RSPB reserves. Celebrities, including Emilia Fox, showed their support by wearing handmade green hearts, many of them crafted by RSPB staff.