My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
We have just heard that the Richard Benyon - the Wildlife Minister - has decided to drop proposals to licence the destruction of buzzard nests and to bring adult buzzards into captivity around shooting estates.
This is what the Minister has said:
"In the light of the public concerns expressed in recent days, I have decided to look at developing new research proposals on buzzards.
"The success of conservation measures has seen large increases in the numbers of buzzards and other birds of prey over the last two decades. As Minister for Wildlife I celebrate that and since 2010 we have championed many new measures to benefit wildlife across England – set out in our England Biodiversity Strategy.
"At the same time it is right that we make decisions on the basis of sound evidence and we do need to understand better the whole relationship between raptors, game birds and other livestock. I will collaborate with all the organisations that have an interest in this issue and will bring forward new proposals.”
We’re pleased the minister has listened to people’s concerns and acted in the public interest by cancelling this project. This is a strong decision, reflecting the nation’s desire to see Government protecting precious wildlife.
I would like to thank all of you that made your concerns known to your MP and to Defra.
It is clear that large swathes of the public celebrate the recovery of the buzzard after many decades of persecution. We don’t want our taxes being spent on removing buzzards or destroying their nests and we shall continue to make the case to government that no bird of prey should be killed in the name of sport.
As I have written in previous blogs, we don’t want anything to distract Defra from the pressing task of saving our threatened wildlife. It should be putting its limited resources into areas such as preventing the extinction of hen harriers in England.
Well done, RSPB, and also for tipping off the BBC - where I first saw the fore-warning. Hope we will see mention of the outcome on Springwatch? Well done all! Democracy does work! Someone tell the Countryside Alliance that it was not due [as their Tim Bonner declared] to a 'large and vocal special interest group' or 'whoever shouts the loudest' that 'ministers are now willing to give in to.' No, this was the voice of the usually silent majority, who have simply had enough [I won't say of what]. Not all are members of the RSPB, but the British public loves its birds and its natural heritage.
Redkite -----in my opinion the Sea Eagle into East Anglia was doomed to failure and will still be doomed unless those wanting to introduce it get the land owners onside,it cannot be a success without their co-operation and this must include what is cleverly called management fees or in truth compensation for what the Eagles take.Other areas get these fees and it would be regarded as completely unfair by East Anglian land owners to be treated differently and I honestly believe if the right avenues had been explored instead of pushy attitude making it seem that they were being forced into it we would already have had the first batch.There are people now with lots of experience with Sea Eagles who could have persuaded the land owners that most of their fears were groundless.I simply think N E tried bully boy tactics that will not work.
While I will defend Sea Eagles for sure things like free range poultry must be at risk and they are certainly capable of taking Geese of which there was a photo on internet today of admittedly a wild goose taken but obviously they would not refuse a domestic one.
Well done Martin
Ben/Stuart - you are right. Lots of people and organisations played their part and they were united in the strength of feeling.
Bob - thank you. There is still work to do for the Minister to prevent such a situation arising again but all parties are now in a better place.
Redkite - I'll leave that one to you for now.
Excellent news Martin. Great effort from everyone, RSPB,press and public. Another example of underestimation by DEFRA and others of public opinion and love for the environment! As others have said perhaps DEFRA will spend the £400k on something more worthwhile.
Martin, I have just heard the BBC News and thought you came across very well, especially being able to finish on the Non-Native species comment. Good News and I hope that the comment above "I will collaborate with all the organisations that have an interest in this issue and will bring forward new proposals" does mean proper collaboration.
The CLA spokesman clearly does not like social media interfering whilst on the other side there have been many comments about having to fill in petitions to defeat this. Social Media is how modern day democracy is going to work as any politician knows and so should the CLA. I personally think petitions are for long term issues and did like the comment you made along the line of 'They should have listened to us before this went public'.
Great, great news, Martin I have just read the same info on BBC text news. So, so well done by the RSPB (again!!) in getting this aweful scheme dropped. It was totally and completely out of line with conserving wildlife. As you say, may be we can now move onto saving hen harriers which is desparately urgent. Also, perhaps, resurrecting the proposal to reintroduce the white tailed eagle to East Anglia. However, second thoughts, I have the feeling that perhaps this is just a step too far at the moment.
Well done Martin, RSPB and all the environmental journalists not forgetting members of public
who added comments online to newspaper articles re. the abandonment of that awful idea to destroy buzzard nests.
Lets hope the buzzards realize the debt!!