World Conservation Day

As a member of the RSPB, you help make a real difference by supporting projects that give nature a home. This World Conservation Day we want to say thank you to all our members as we take a look back at the projects you made possible.

We can help species under pressure

One of the most amazing things that the RSPB is able to do with the support we have from members is to make a tangible positive difference for endangered species.

Carrying out research, discovering the causes of problems that some of our best-loved birds are facing and implementing ambitious restoration projects has seen benefits for puffins, albatrosses and roseate terns to name just a few. And it’s all thanks to you.

People power with project puffin

A delightfully charismatic and colourful bird, the puffin has a special place in many people’s hearts. So it is no surprise that when we asked for help to try to reverse their dwindling numbers, RSPB members and members of the public were quick to act.

In 2017, Project Puffin was launched and we asked people to join the “Puffarazzi” by sending in their photographs of puffins with fish in their beaks to help see what young pufflings were being fed and if food shortages were part of the problem these birds face.

Puffarazzi – snapping sandeels

Since then, more and more people have been joining in and between 2019 and 2020 over 800 people sent in 2,669 photographs from 50 different colonies. They played an important role as Puffarazzi, turning their love of puffins into science by submitting their photos of puffins with beaks stuffed with sandeels.

This database of information will give invaluable clues about how the type and size of puffin’s food has changed over time across the UK. And is something we simply couldn’t have achieved without your help. This positive action is a heartwarming reminder of how we can work together to help ensure a brighter future for vulnerable puffins.

Terning point for rare roseates

Puffins haven’t been the only birds to benefit from recent conservation efforts. Roseate terns are starting to make a comeback thanks to major island restoration work at Blue Circle Island in Northern Ireland, part of the Larne Lough reserve in County Antrim.

Roseate terns are the rarest breeding seabirds in Europe and are critically endangered. In the 1980s numbers of these birds at Larne Lough were healthy, with up to 35 breeding pairs. This dropped to just one pair in recent years with the entire UK and Ireland population found at only three sites: Rockabill Island and Lady Island Lake in the Republic of Ireland and Coquet Island in Northumberland.

Specially-designed new nest site

At Blue Circle Island the sea defences had collapsed and there had been significant erosion through flooding. Thanks to your support, the RSPB led work to shore up the island and extend the nesting area. We’re delighted to already be seeing success from these efforts as two chicks hatched in July 2019 – surely a positive sign for the future. 

And the other 7,000 birds on the island including common terns, Sandwich terms, Mediterranean gulls, oystercatchers and black guillemots are benefitting from the work too.

Impact overseas

The incredible impact of finding the right solution to prevent the accidental death of thousands of albatrosses every year is another cause to celebrate what the RSPB can achieve with your help.

Albatrosses are magnificent sea birds with the largest wingspans of any bird in the world. They spend most of their life at sea, only returning to land to breed, but the horrifying statistic that about 100,000 albatrosses were being killed by being caught on longline fishing hooks and trawl cables meant action was needed to save them.

Right place at the right time

The RSPB launched the Albatross Task Force in 2006 to address this problem and your support for this work since then has meant we’ve been able to put people on boats to demonstrate how to keep seabirds off the hook.

More than 5,000 days have been spent at sea and many more hours finding practical solutions to stop seabird deaths, and all this time and effort has paid off. The number of albatrosses accidentally being caught by South African hake trawlers has reduced by 99% and the same methods are being introduced for safer fishing in other countries.

So, as we reflect on World Conservation Day, on our special places and special species it is good to know that with your support and a concerted effort we can give them a bright future and enjoy watching them in the wild for many years to come.

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Puffin at breeding colony, Garbh Eilean, Shiant Islands, Scotland

Be part of the community giving nature a home with an RSPB membership.