Nature's Heroes - Blog

Nature's Heroes

Nature's Heroes
Welcome to the Nature's Heroes group. Shout, inspire, chat or share - we don’t mind how you do it but please help us to create a world richer in wildlife by encouraging others to take small steps for nature.

Nature's Heroes - Blog

News and updates on our campaigning work and the exploits some of our top 'Nature's Heroes' from Steven (Head of Campaigns), Steph (Senior Campaigns Officer) and Kim (Campaigns Officer).
  • It's #InOurNature - is it in yours?

    After decades of decline, nature in the UK is at a cross-roads. At this time of political change, we have a duty to encourage politicians not only to secure our current environmental laws, hard won during our membership of the EU, but to go further.

    We need to push for laws that drive the recovery of nature, so that people across all four countries of the UK can know the thrill of being outdoors in wild places and being inspired by spectacular wildlife.

    But to achieve that, politicians need to see what we already know: that nature matters to millions of people regardless of political outlook. People throughout the UK want nature protection to be better after the UK leaves the EU, regardless of whether they voted to leave or remain.

    The RSPB has been working with experienced campaigners If Not Now Digital and Harriet Kingaby to jointly develop the #InOurNature campaign to serve as a catalyst for others to bring their own creativity and passion for nature to the debate about its future.

    We’ve done this because we believe it’s vital that people beyond our dedicated supporters are made aware of this debate and empowered to have a voice in it. Because of this none of the content is branded RSPB, but we’re excited to be playing a role in ensuring nature has a voice.

    #InOurNature is about giving people the opportunity to share their love of nature.

    So, even though #InOurNature isn’t aimed at dedicated supporters like you, I’m posting this blog so you can see what we’re doing – and to give you the opportunity to get involved if you want to.

    You can check out the campaign at itsinournature.uk and by liking, sharing, and commenting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    Check it out today (Monday 13 November) to be part of the launch of our new film!

  • The nature of farming: what you told us

    The RSPB does a lot of work on farming and food, from science to identify what’s causing wildlife declines on farmland to free advice which helps farmers protect and restore wildlife on their land to ensuring all our reserves cafes meet the Food for Life standard. This week on Twitter we’ve been asking your views on what threatens nature, which of our farming stories have caught your attention most and what you think about farmland wildlife and food.

    Last year’s State of Nature report brought together data from over 50 organisations to look at how wildlife in the UK was faring. As many of you pointed out in our poll, the picture remains alarming: over half our species declined between 1976 and 2013. There are a number of activities which can pose a threat to nature, from urban encroachment to climate change.

    Producing our food doesn’t seem like it should be one of them. But with 75% of UK land used for food production, the way this land is managed has a vital role in the state of nature with agriculture making an important contribution to the fortunes of wildlife. Over the years farming has changed dramatically, this has meant that farms often have less space for nature.

    The speckled brown bird, the meadow pipit, perched on bracken; cornflowers in a wildflower field margin, and a harvest mouse perched on an ear of golden corn in a cornfield.

    Farming practices and the state of nature are inextricably tied together. Many of our names for now declining countryside wildlife show the connection: L-R meadow pipit, cornflowers and harvest mouse. (Image credits L-R Tom Marshall, Andy Hay, Ben Andrew, all rspb-images.com)

     

    Spot the farms that are great for nature

    An over-whelming majority of you on Twitter said that you are almost always on the lookout for wildlife when you’re in the countryside. Fortunately, there are farmers creating, restoring or protecting homes for nature on the land they manage. Like the farmers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are all working in different ways to save the curlew. And stone curlew hero Rachel Hosier in Wiltshire, who introduced stone curlew plots on her farm to successfully encourage these strange and rare birds to flourish.

    These nature friendly farmers are demonstrating that is possible for farming and nature to go hand in hand. Whether it is skylarks or turtle doves, cornflowers or pollinating bees, many of our most iconic species live on farmland, making it often a great place to experience wildlife. You can look out for the tell-tale features seen on nature friendly farms:

    • Established habitats like species-rich grasslands and woodland are some of the most important for wildlife.
    • Hedgerows and field margins are home to nesting birds and small mammals and also help link up other areas of habitat.
    • Water features such as farm ponds are vital for those species which live, feed or breed in or near water.
    • Wildflower meadows offer a home to pollinators and other insects, as well as native plants.
    • During winter many birds need a helping hand from farmers to find the seed food they rely on to survive until the plentiful summer period. Look out for fields at this time of year where the crop has been harvested but the stubble left over winter, allowing birds including yellowhammers, linnets and corn buntings to feed on them. 

     

    But what about the shop shelf?

    Of course farms are not nature reserves – they are places where our farmers produce the food we eat. You told us you quite often tend to think about the impact of the food you buy on wildlife and this is great to hear! However right now it can be hard to find much information. But it’s not impossible: we’ve pulled together six simple ways to make your shopping basked more nature friendly.

     

    Time for a new system

    While many farmers are motivated by a love of nature and the responsibility they feel as stewards of the land, government support is vital to help them to help nature. Nature brings us so many benefits, from food grown in healthy, fertile soils, to the great feeling of being surrounded by nature. But our ‘use’ of nature that way has a cost. Something needs to be put back in to look after the environment we benefit from. There’s very little money for that in the food supply chain, instead, it comes from government schemes which pay farmers to deliver environmental benefits.

    We are on the cusp of an extraordinary opportunity for change, as the Government next year will present a new agriculture bill, the first in over 40 years, which will determine the future shape of farming in this country. You told us that you think it’s their job to ensure our food meets a minimum standard of environmental sustainability. We want the Government to take this chance to shift our food system to one that protects our environment and sustains the healthy, diverse wildlife that support food production. If you agree, sign up to be a campaign champion to join our campaigning when the Government publishes its proposals next year.

  • Get crafty about climate change and help us to Show the Love next February

    Every February, for the last 3 years, the RSPB has joined in with the 100+ other organisations that make up The Climate Coalition (of which the RSPB is a founding member) to Show the Love for all the things you care about that are affected by climate change: from coffee to capercaillies, and from your favourite sports to the coastal resorts you like to visit.  

    Each year many of the organisations have got involved by making hand-crafted green hearts to wear and share. The green heart acts a symbol of the movement. A way to spread the message far and wide that climate change is already affecting the things we love, but that we can do something about it, if enough of us show we care.

    RSPB has never really done much with the crafting side of Show the Love, but for February 2017 I decided to give it a whirl, and put the call out to staff and volunteers across the organisation to see if anyone was interested. I honestly only expected a handful of people to get back to me, and just a few hearts to arrive on my desk.

    I couldn’t have been more wrong!

    (My desk around November last year!)

    Not only did more than 50 people get in touch to find out how to get involved, but the hearts started to flood in. It wasn’t long before the arrival of any new package on my desk would draw in a crowd of people from around the office, eager to see the new arrivals.

    I lost count in the end, but we must have received close to 500 hearts, if not more! One amazing lady, Wendy Ward, who volunteers in the Volunteering Department at The Lodge made over 200 felt and quilted hearts alone! Others created hearts with the most detailed species on them, and we also received a heart with a huge 3-D hedgehog on!

    So what did we do with them all? Some went to The Climate Coalition to use with their celebrity engagement, others went to nature-loving celebrities like Simon Reeve, Gordon Buchanan and Michaela Strachan who posted pictures of themselves wearing their hearts on social media. Many more went to RSPB reserve staff, and even to senior members of staff to wear and share in important meetings with politicians - a perfect opportunity to tell them how RSPB is working hard to not only encourage the government to act to minimise climate change, but also how we are helping nature to thrive and adapt on our reserves.

    (Images from Twitter: Simon Reeve, Gordon Buchanan and RSPB President Miranda Krestovnikoff)

    Several crafters came back to me afterwards and said how rewarding they had found it, making something for a purpose, not just another cushion to decorate the sofa with. I can honestly say, despite being about as crafty as a brick, it is the most fun I’ve ever had in my job!

    The good news is we will be doing it again for Show the Love, February 2018 (and beyond). Given the response of our staff and volunteers, I thought I'd see if any of you would like to get involved with sharing a message of love and hope for the future.

    If you are interested, or would like more information, do drop me an email at kim.matthews@rspb.org.uk  

    You never know who could be wearing your heart on their sleeve next year!