Science support for site conservation

We provide scientific evidence to help protect our finest wildlife sites.

Wind Power; windmill offshore of Blyth, Northumberland.


Scientific evidence is essential to underpin the RSPB’s program of sites and species conservation. Science is needed to ensure the most important sites are designated as protected areas, and to find the best ways to avoid environmental damage from infrastructure projects. The main focus of this aspect of the RSPB’s work is the network of protected sites and species of conservation concern.

Most work is concentrated on the UK, but we also assist international colleagues in RSPB and BirdLife. Conservation Science staff and other experts provide specialist advice on study techniques; provide input to planning and policy consultations, as well as to individual planning cases; prepare information and guidance notes for RSPB planning and policy staff and regional conservation officers, drawing on the scientific literature; and work with internal and external partners to develop, review and undertake research projects to improve the evidence base.

Current projects include a review of the effectiveness of mitigation, and tracking seabirds to understand the effect of offshore wind farms. Many other CfCS projects provide evidence that supports this work stream.


  • To provide a rapid response system which will engage appropriate experts both within and outside RSPB to provide scientific evidence in support of urgent, high-priority casework, including providing the necessary training and support to enable appropriate experts to act as effective expert witnesses, for example in public inquiries.
  • To undertake an audit of the adequacy of international, national and regional primary survey data as the basis for underpinning site designation, and identify the work required to fill gaps in this evidence base.
  • To identify critical strategic science to underpin site conservation advocacy and casework and to find ways to promote such research to enable it to go ahead either within RSPB or by influencing external partners to fund or conduct the work.



We're reviewing information on the effectiveness of habitat creation schemes developed as mitigation or compensation for new developments.

A paper has been published identifying critical gaps in the evidence base relating to the likely impacts of offshore wind farms on seabirds
Information notes, literature reviews and guidance have been prepared on a variety of topics.

We continue to provide effective and credible expert witnesses who robustly present scientific evidence in support of RSPB casework.


Coast on a stormy day

Dr Lucy Wright

Principal Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science
Coast on a stormy day

Dr Aly McCluskie

Senior Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science
Coast on a stormy day

Dr Alex Sansom

Conservation Scientist, Conservation Science
Tagged with: Country: England Country: Northern Ireland Country: Scotland Country: Wales Country: International Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Heathland Habitat: Marine and intertidal Habitat: Upland Habitat: Urban and suburban Habitat: Wetland Habitat: Woodland Species: UK bird species Project status: Ongoing Project classification: Ongoing Project types: Research