To protect birds of prey, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is alienating the rural population. The former director of the Scottish argues that if both parties to join our wildlife will pay the price
The annual general meeting of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is a lavish affair, held in the heart of London. About 1,000 enthusiastic members and attend its highest point is a moving account of the achievements of the year as president of the institution. The tone tends to the Gospel. At the meeting last year, the current president of the RSPB, Ian Darling, could applaud a record membership of over 1 million, each paid £ 3 per month to help preserve the life of Britain bird - or your brochure says, all that "hops, crawls or shaking in his garden."
It is charity that attracts devotees, birds tending their tables across the country, and the proud parents to send their children on rides bird. But it is also one of the bodies largest conservation in the country. Darling told some successes: the draft Great crane crane restored Somerset Levels after an absence of 400 years, the red-backed shrike reproduce successfully for the first time in the UK in 17 years and kites hatched in Northern Ireland after 200 years.
could applaud the good financial condition of the company - a net profit of ? 94 million and EUR 83 million of expenditures. Your funds through generous bequests of their members are largely devoted to conservation projects, including the purchase of land in nature reserves, is the property of 209 at last count, covering about 300,000 hectares of the Great Britain, nearly half of that in Scotland, making country the eighth largest landowner.
With all this financial power has considerable influence. RSPB advice is sought by governments and corporations in a wide range of topics, from the location of the wind farm planning bypasses and airport runways. Not only research, but satisfied. Companies superpowers, the main actors of the energy on land and sea, to pay tribute to the RSPB to divert sites that are considered dangerous to birds. They know that to ignore the advice is to run the risk of long-term planning objections dilated and final defeat.
In most cases, advertising RSPB as a huge success - and why not? This is probably one of the charities most popular in Britain, a huge source of objective scientific body of knowledge on wildlife, not only in England but in the world. However, the RSPB has antagonized farmers, landowners and even rural communities among whom they work. An organization that prides itself once its close ties with the issues in the field of work and knowledge of the land which now lies at a distance, helping the police to denounce the owners, accusing them of crimes blame farmers Wildlife and height of agricultural practices that, according to him, led to a dramatic fall in the number of species common before. Despite its position on the shooting is officially "neutral", a very high proportion of their press releases refer to the owners of the moor and pheasant shoots, accusing them of trapping, poisoning and shooting prey, or "birds of prey", as defined. A recent campaign has urged young members to help the company detective film, "Can you help catch criminals?" He asks. "With your help, we can save birds of prey."
Given the high desert of Great Britain is one of the most fragile ecosystems in the country and agriculture accounts for over 75% of their land, it is the first line of conservation.
landowners and farmers claim that there is something very rare in public campaigns RSPB and how they seem to be obsessed with birds of prey above all others. These are, of course, the most glamorous birds in Britain. But the idea that they are under threat appears, for some, this is a very partial version of the truth.
The picture painted by the survey of breeding birds later prepared by the British Foundation for Ornithology (BTO), a science-based organization, opposes the head RSPB in affirmation. Species such as kites, eagles, peregrine falcons and are doing well, especially with comets, now reintroduced in Britain, a familiar sight in large areas of southern England, Wales and the Scottish Highlands. Golden eagles are thriving enough for about 40 of them have been "transferred" to County Donegal in Ireland. Buzzards, another common bird of prey, increased more than 600% since 1967, prompting Defra, the Department of Environment, Government, to discuss ways to control them.
Even the number of hen harriers, which are stored in the "red list" of endangered species BTO globally endangered, increased from 570 breeding pairs in Britain in 1998 806 in 2004 before falling to 646 in 2010. Its population is European with thousands.
The RSPB, however, remains a passionate campaign on behalf of all birds of prey, whatever their number, their concern about advertising eclipsing the birds, many of which are now in the list of endangered species - willow tits really BTO, wagtail, Lapwing, partridge, pigeon Redshank, Stonechat and chat, some of which have undergone a population collapse. Working to preserve them, the company must have those who own and manage the land on their side.
owners and farmers, who are at the other end of the adverse publicity, they say they are so concerned about the fragility of bird populations in Britain and the RSPB. They admit a more varied birds of prey, see, despite their beauty, as predators that attack small birds and young pheasants, partridges and even farm animals are their livelihood. They argue that if the RSPB spent less time criticizing and working with them as partners, and much more can be done in the cause of conservation. The RSPB, meanwhile, says it is committed to working with landowners, farmers and other land managers: "We are the largest UK provider of free advice for the conservation of the agricultural community."
Many believe that to maintain high adhesion, the RSPB does not want to be seen forging any relationship with the shooting fraternity. Knowing that their faithful members of a dim blood sports, the "neutral" point of view about the shooting can sometimes turn into hostility. Privately, officials admit farmers or landowners RSPB do a lot of good work to propagate the species of birds - plantation crops of birds friendly, heather burning and killing bugs to improve the prospects of taking of view. In public, however, support those who kill birds for sport is rarely expressed.
John MacTavish, 46, a gamekeeper on an estate of 1500 acres and pheasant shoot near Oban, has worked all his life on earth, and he is very interested in conservation. However, since the introduction of sea eagles, a spectacular bird of prey known in the region for 200 years, said he found a constant object of suspicion. These eagles have chosen not to nest on their land and RSPB believes that officials are convinced that deliberately scared. They return regularly to monitor their activities.
"I have absolutely nothing against sea eagles," MacTavish said, "but I have an aversion to people who come into my country without permission. I would not return to their country without asking first. Why can not they have the decency to ask me? "
As many guards, MacTavish is a fellow born and raised, who knows his own game like the back of his hand. This is part of their work to spend cold nights on the hill in constant war against foxes, using their skills to protect your partridges and pheasants, as well as ground-nesting birds, which suffer from the attention of predators.
Their culture could not be more different from the RSPB, whose members are largely based in the cities, and share a natural antipathy to farmers and shooters - the former head of the ruin of their country with pesticides and fertilizers, he dismissed simply as murderers.
"They seem to be committed to the protection of birds of prey at the expense of everything else," said MacTavish. "But now I have more vultures bullfinches."
Privately, some executives of the Company in accordance with this, arguing that it is time to call a truce. But his public statements on the subject are still aggressive. Accounting investigations RSPB said on its website: ".. It is important to stay focused in order to bring the murderers to justice, there can be a higher job satisfaction than "
The company admits that allows police to conduct raids on the properties assumed. "The RSPB will provide specialized assistance to help enforcement agencies in their efforts to fight against wildlife crime as needed" is the official line.
The report was virtually ignored by the RSPB. As it was the last nine years in the moors of North Yorkshire by the Conservation Trust of Hunting and. Using traditional methods of struggle against predators, trust has been able to show significant improvements between waders. During the experiment, their populations triple improved.
It was rejected by the former director of the RSPB conservation Mark Avery, because "... funded work-Moor grouse managers who are willing to promote the wider value of grouse moor-predator control ... management, legal and illegal, too often, is in the business of providing great cock hunting in the fall. "
For a measured response to a serious scientific work that borders easy, but highlights the huge gap between the two parties. And environmentalists angry that Lord Peel, a former member of the English Nature and the former president of the Conservation Trust of Hunting and. "It seems quite logical and desirable that there be greater cooperation between charities and wildlife keepered farms," ??he said. "The chance to attend the virtual disappearance of iconic species, as occurred outside areas keepered, as well as significant economic benefits arising from shooting grouse distress in rural areas, do not think."
RSPB arguments can be listened to with more respect on the ground if their own farms moors showed better results. Into two major sections moors, Lake Vyrnwy in Wales and Cumberland Geltsdale, the company that was acquired moors, and gave to conservation. In this case, one would think, should be able to prove triumphantly that birds of prey and birds feed on joy can coexist.
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