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.
A fortnight ago in Manila, the RSPB led a delegation from the BirdLife International Partnership (including partners from Australia, India, Paraguay, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Spain) to the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) of the UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). This is the key mechanism by which countries can cooperate to save species that don’t respect national borders. Below Principal Policy Officer, Nicola Crockford, who has been the driving force behind our work on this Convention, provides an overview of the outcomes.
David Tipling's fabulous image of two turlte doves - Europe's fastest declining migratory bird species
With this meeting, the 38 year old Convention ‘came of age’ as THE global convention (alongside CITES, the Convention on Wildlife Trade) to provide comprehensive species conservation across national boundaries. Attended by 1000 participants from 126 countries it was by far the biggest CMS COP ever. Aligning itself as a means to support Parties to implement the “species” actions under the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Biodiversity Goals (the Aichi Targets), in terms of the avian agenda, it focused on countries agreeing to take concrete actions to conserve some of the world’s most important migratory species, with the support of task specific intergovernmental groups established under CMS.
BirdLife has been working since 2010 to secure support for a suite of actions to tackle the four biggest drivers of the decline of migratory birds: to eradicate illegal killing of birds including poisoning especially through law enforcement, to work with the energy sector to minimise impacts on birds, to conserve coastal wetlands (especially for coastal shorebirds which, together with African-Eurasian Vultures, are the most threatened group of terrestrial migratory birds in the world) and to work to ensure sustainable use of landscapes with a focus on the needs of migratory landbirds.
Important decisions on these issues agreed at this COP included:
However, the most important agenda item for BirdLife at this meeting was the adoption of the multi-species action plan for the African-Eurasian Vultures (including working with the CMS groups on illegal killing, poisoning, energy and unsustainable land use), and the listing of 10 species of African and Asian Vulture on CMS Appendix I, giving them the highest level of protection. This will strengthen intergovernmental engagement in the RSPB-led work on Saving Asian Vultures (SAVE).
Other important decisions included:
This progress at COP12 is entirely in line with the aspiration for the RSPB, as part of the BirdLife Partnership, to deliver biodiversity conservation from local to global, as we have in fact, in practice been doing for years on each of these themes.
The next COP is to be hosted by India in 2020, in the run up to the Biodiversity Convention’s milestone COP in China towards the end of the year.