RSPB on bird statistics

Following yesterday’s publication of the latest figures on some UK bird populations the RSPB has published a blog. Here’s a quote:

As you would expect, these indicators confirm the dire warnings about Britain’s nature reported in the State of Nature report published on 3rd October this year.
The small decline in the combined index disguises substantial changes in specific groupings of birds. Farmland birds, breeding water and wetland birds, seabirds, and wintering waterbirds, have all shown significant declines over the latest assessment period.
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14 Replies to “RSPB on bird statistics”

  1. With these findings yet more ammunition to end political support for 'our' pathetic grouse moors. We are actually giving public money to something that deprives us of wildlife, drives away jobs and increases flood risk while using public money elsewhere to help wildlife, try and create jobs and protect us from floods. Mmmm....something not making sense there I think.

  2. I'm increasingly bemused by the conservation lobby's attitude to farming, which is by far and away the biggest problem for bird populations. Conservationists seem to accept arguments like food security in a way that most farmers clearly don't. They are even prepared to discuss greater intensification and I've been staggered by many of the responses to the Knepp project which in one way or another incline towards 'really this land should be farmed'. I think there is a big crunch point here between the traditional sectoral position which effectively accepts farming's right to dominate land use , and relegates conservation to the bits farmers don't want, and a natural capital approach which goes back to the fundamentals of what society needs from the land now and into the future, rather than what it needed in 1947.

    1. It isn't "farming", it's us. We, as a society, are still demanding cheap food and plenty of it as we did in 1947. Until and unless we accept that we must pay the true cost of what farmers produce, we won't get anywhere. Farmers (I don't include agribusiness in that term) are continually pinched by us and have to get more and more out of their land. And we have given them the tools - the big machines (meaning that hedgerows need to be taken out and previously unusable land can be brought into production), the chemicals to increase yields, etc. So for instance, if we want a wheat field to be free of chemicals and have room for "weeds" and breeding birds we have to accept that a loaf of bread may cost £4.

      1. According to Mark Cocker in 'Our Place' 30% of hedgerows were actually removed because farmers thought they were 'untidy'. I'm not sure our food is cheap - where do agricultural subsidies come from if not the public purse? And I'd also say there are 'farmers' who get an awful lot of money for producing virtually sod all in terms of food - the crofters of Lewis spring to mind. A lot of agriculture - about a third - is actually producing material for landfill, we waste about 12.5 billion quids worth of food in the UK every year. If we cut that we could give an awful lot of land back to nature and it would save us a fortune too - the only cost would be to those who are somehow profiting from the status quo, somebody clearly is.

  3. As ever, the RSPB bangs the drum with maximum limpness.
    Someone might as well as confiscate the drumsticks altogether. When it comes to advocacy, the organisation is depressingly feeble. Where is the robust leadership that is so seriously needed?

  4. That's a very important - in fact, crucial - point, Andy. A very large part of the problem is the effectiveness with which the cities suck value out of the countryside - every time efficiency improves the price goes down. Not surprising when you have a failed market with thousands of small producers on one side and a few huge - and stock-market driven - on the other.

    But, and its a big but, it hasn't really meant cheap food - the food industry has been hugely skilfull in upping the value of what it sells us, whilst cutting its own costs. How is it farm gate values is £12 billion & food industry £70 billion ? We've been told convenience is everything and super processing has increased and increased. We're being sold more and more meat because the profits are higher, and its making us ill. If we didn't put so much of our grain into animals we could be nutritionally self sufficient in the UK

  5. Why do so many continually moan about farmers and farming.
    You people have the answer but will not bite the bullet. Join together and buy lots of land and you can then do just as you bloody well like.
    That is what lots of farmers like my wife and myself did, we simply put our money where our mouths were and conservationists are in a position to do what I advocate but would much prefer to sit in the warm writing complaining about farmers.
    What a farce.

    1. When the NFU is the closest thing farming has to a national voice then Dennis I don't think you've got much ground for complaining how much others complain - questioning the right to advertise vegetarian sausages was not their lowest point sadly. If you want to hear world championship whingeing I suggest you listen in to the crofting or hill farming 'communities' - it seems a mere 130 pairs of sea eagle are rendering all sheep farming on Scotland's west coast uneconomic and if so much as one new tree is planted in the Welsh hills it will be the death of the Welsh language and culture - it totally hinges on sheep (subsidy) we're told You're right about us putting our money where our mouths are, about time our public money was redirected from marginal farming at a time when a third of our food is binned and we have an obesity crisis - more trees on our hills and less floodwater in our towns would be nice.

      1. Les, the big difference is you could all get together and solve the problem.
        There is a solution,guess not too many want to put money into something as it is easier to moan as when I have quoted the Girl Bunting project as a possible that farmers could possibly help farmland birds in a similar way then conservationists show no interest.
        You can quote instances of moaning as much as you like but for sure conservationist are up with the best of them.
        There are plenty of instances where farmers have got on board with organisations to improve wildlife.A leading person of one counties Badger group said all farmers destroy all wildlife so is it any wonder that many farmers do not take to wildlife groups.

      2. Les, you will not find farmers wasting food. If you do not understand that it is a problem of the general public then you must have a serious problem that farmers cannot solve.
        You are simply trying to shift the blame onto the innocent.

        1. We've been here before Dennis! If the farming community in general is concerned about saving wildlife and our food security as stated ad nauseum by the far from glorious NFU why are they banging the drum for continued massive subsidy of marginal agriculture when at least a third of our food is wasted? Cut food waste, improve food security and give land back to natural processes (and public benefits - reduced flooding, better water quality, more wildlife and better recreational opportunities) plus major financial savings re reduction in agricultural subsidies and unnecessary consumer purchases available for better things than feeding landfill sites - not a thirtieth of our food going to waste, I repeat - AT LEAST A THIRD! Why aren't farmers complaining about all that food they've apparently worked so hard to produce ending up in the bin? Remember I've lived and worked on a farm and had direct dealings with crofters - I can't say my experience matches even remotely with what I keep hearing about the 'reality' of farming and farmers.

  6. Apologies if I’ve missed comments/ answers covering this point over the last two days, but can people suggest why for a few years from around 2000 to 2005 ish farmland and woodland birds’ decline levelled off for a few years before nosediving further ? Wetland birds also had a level period. Something to do with set aside for farming ? new woodland factors such as recent expansion of deer population?

  7. Conservationists just do not get it.
    All together now put money in and you can do just as you bloody like on it.


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