The Charity That Forgot Its Mission
Britain’s millions of bird lovers come in many forms- from city dwellers feeding ducks in the park to rural heroes doing the backbreaking work of building bird habitats.
They include many farmers, wildlife volunteers and gamekeepers. These true bird lovers appreciate all types of birds and want all to flourish. They are also pragmatic. They know that foxes and cats are a nightmare for birds. They accept that you cannot have vast numbers of both birds of prey and songbirds. They are realistic that humans have been managing nature for thousands of years – and that there are often difficult choices.
If you have lots of goshawks today, you may have no kestrels tomorrow. Sparrowhawks reduce sparrow populations – the clue is in the name.
What disturbs many bird lovers is their perception that an organisation that once stood head and shoulders above the rest in defence of birdlife has gone astray. It’s not just that the RSPB recently relegated its “protecting birds” mission for a soft sell conservation image.
They fear that it has also sold its soul and become a giant fundraising machine where decisions are made not according to what is good for birds but what will keep the RSPB’s revenues growing. Their disquiet is that its hoovering up of charitable funds and single-issue campaigning is toxic to bird welfare.
“the RSPB recently relegated its ‘protecting birds’ mission”
Are their concerns valid? This website asks fair questions of the RSPB. Many, while believing that the charity does much good, will have their own questions. We are happy to pose them for you. Will the RSPB provide full answers? Or will its activist fringe simply shoot the messenger?
“… a charitable organisation drifting away from its principal purpose – to propagate all species of birds, rather than a chosen few; instead of acting as a model of evidence-based science, it seems to have turned increasingly into a lobbying body, more intent on boosting its membership than in propagating objective research.”
These ideologues tend to avoid hard questions by switching the focus to others. That’s not to say that others shouldn’t be challenged. There are tough questions to be asked about wildlife crime – from well known naturalists who encourage the stealing of eggs through to gamekeepers who persecute birds of prey.
Lack of information means many donors are
“too disillusioned to give”
Why We Are Making A Complaint To The Charity Commission
We have long been concerned that the conservation debate has been dominated by ideology rather than pragmatism. Single issue campaigns have pushed out a rounded view of how birds depend on the habitat people create for them along with careful management to stop boom and bust cycles when predator and prey numbers become unbalanced.
Many bird lovers including Birdwatch Magazine are concerned that campaigning and fundraising are being put before habitat creation.
At the centre of the debate lies the massive RSPB. It is spending far less on bird habitat than its supporters expect and is often ineffective at creating conditions for birds to flourish on its reserves.
We have created this campaign to raise questions which deserve answers. We hope the Charity Commission, politicians and the media will help ensure that this happens.
Sir Ian Botham
Martyn Howat, former Director of Natural England
Sir Johnny Scott, BBC TV presenter
You Forgot The Birds
…draws together a network of people who are passionate about bird habitat. Some of us are conservationists or self-confessed birders, some are farmers and landowners, some work full-time in the countryside while others are volunteers from the cities.
A regular question we ask is about the effectiveness of the various conservation groups at helping bird life to thrive. Who actually builds bird habitat? And who is just talk—great at fundraising but doing little real conservation?
We are going to examine the accounts of the RSPB and all the 47 Wildlife Trusts and get you the facts.
If you would like to join our germinating group of conservation charity monitors then drop us an email.
The Wrong Type Of Bird…
Just as Hollywood films are a poor guide to real life, so the RSPB’s website is a caricature of the realities of nature. As a casting agent creates a fantasy image to lure in the box office, so the right looking bird for the RSPB is a money maker. It’s either very beautiful or very cute. Its doe-eyed look cries out for protection. Ideally there’s a nasty villain to protect it from. In short it has to have Disney star potential.
Take the hen harrier. It doesn’t just have bankable movie star looks but also a back story of victimisation. So it is the ultimate nice little earner for the RSPB. A baby barn owl can look the part too. But you don’t have to be a bird. The RSPB will use baby seals and red squirrels – so long as they look adorable.
The wrong type of bird includes chickens (too frumpy), eagle owls (because they eat birds of prey) and, of course, ugly ducklings.