Nine years ago…

Nine years ago I was in Washington DC with jet lag but with 7 weeks to cross the USA in a hire car and chat to waitresses in diners.

And The Guardian published this piece from me – which is interesting for me to re-read and perhaps for you too. It was a Janus moment but I could not have foreseen the fun I would have in the years up to now, nor how I would have spent my time. I would not have guessed Brexit nor a global pandemic but nor would I have guessed the feeble performance of both the voluntary and the statutory nature conservation sectors.


2 Replies to “Nine years ago…”

  1. I don’t think any of us could have predicted Brexit ( the British moment of lemming madness) or a pandemic. However one of the most crucial things has been the weakness and total ineffectiveness of nature conservation. Statutory have been completely emasculated by government cuts, with deliberate debilitating rule and role changes. The voluntary sector have essentially just been ineffective, weak and offered little if any real leadership. The fight to get farmland birds in better shape and our uplands out of a regime of ruination has not been led by big the NGOs, who all sat on the fence so long their arses must be like hot crossed buns. The fight has been led by individuals and new organisations with to a considerable degree people power.

  2. Compared with the courage and vigour of the women who helped create the RSPB, its leadership over the past decade has seldom been less than been flabby and cowering.

    It laments the decline in bird populations, especially on farmland, but shows no campaigning zeal to reverse the trend.

    As often as not, it prefers to turn a blind eye rather than speak out on a controversial issue such as agro-chemicals, raptor-persecution or hedgerow-netting.

    It will sometimes bring up the rear, but it never leads from the front.

    It should learn some lessons from its US counterpart, American Bird Conservancy, a far more dynamic organisation.

    That’s not to say the RSPB doesn’t have some fantastic officers, for instance on its reserves and its crime-detection department.

    They must feel very disappointed at the organisation’s lack of robust leadership.

    As a start, there needs to be a complete overhaul of its toothless campaigning and PR departments.

    We need an RSPB that once more punches above its weight, not below it.

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