Yesterday’s RSPB AGM was, for me, the most relaxed one I have ever attended, as I was there as an RSPB member rather than an RSPB member of staff. And the most difficult question I had to answer was ‘Mark – how are you?’.
You do learn a bit by attending these events and keeping your ears open.
The RSPB’s membership is now 1,095,015 – nearly 1.1m – that’s a long way past the one million mark. In fact it’s in the order of 70-120 times the membership of organisations such as the BTO, Plantlife and Butterfly Conservation, all of which do an excellent job (and could do with more members!). I only point out that if you were designing wildlife conservation organisations in the UK you might not design the plant conservation organisation to be one hundredth the size of the bird conservation organisation. One member expressed some dissatisfaction that the National Trust has now reached 4 million members with the RSPB languishing at almost 1.1million!
But that is not to criticise the RSPB in any way – it was lovely for me to sit through the AGM and just let the fantastic achievements of what is much more than a bird conservation organisation to wash over me.
It was a matter of regret to me that Philip Astor was not present to ask his usual question on some aspect of killing nature. And that Clive Cohen was not there to ask his usual question about not killing nature.
If you had been one of the c500 members present you would have heard about the acquisition of a new nature reserve in Scotland, on Deeside, called Crannach. I am sure that the RSPB’s patron will be delighted to have the RSPB as a close neighbour of Balmoral estate and let’s hope that gamekeeping standards are in perfect order on Balmoral these days.
The RSPB’s Conservation Director, what a great job that is!, Martin Harper, disclosed that later this week a bunch of wildlife NGOs will be publishing a ‘Nature Check’ report on the English government’s progress on wildlife conservation. I’d be guessing that there is some way to go to get a glowing report.
News of the ‘election’ of five ‘new’ Council members was announced. There was no need for an election as the number of candidates matched the number of vacancies and the excellent Dr Andy Brown will serve another term on Council. The new arrivals were Professor David Baldock, Paul Cooke, Kevin Cox and Graeme Wallace (formerly a Director at Pricewaterhouse Coopers).
The highlight of the AGM was the speech by the recipient of the RSPB Medal – more on that tomorrow.