I am proud of my involvement with the RSPB.
I am proud to have volunteered for them for the last ten years and even before that when assisting my father. I am proud to have fundraised for the RSPB and specifically Operation Turtle Dove for the last three years and intend to do so for the next three, at least.
I cannot think of any single action the RSPB has taken which has caused me disdain or made me reconsider renewing my membership.
As well as more straight forward support through species championing of Turtle Dove, volunteering and fundraising I also lobby my MP on the behalf of the RSPB but moreover myself. I love nature. I love our wildlife and I love our wild spaces - all of which the RSPB seek to protect.
The RSPB is a handy hook to use when sat in front of politicians. They understand the RSPB’s motives, the organisation is instantly recognisable and politicians know the RSPB has a membership of over one million, which inevitably includes some of their constituents.
Corresponding with my MP and especially meeting with him wasn’t something I found easy. Having now done it a few times and also met other politicians I am more comfortable and well-versed in how best to conduct my self.
The first time I met with my MP I was intimidated, just as I am when I fulfil public speaking engagements. However, in both cases I do so because I care deeply about nature and know the only way to effect change upon the establishment is to engage with it. Remember politicians are often landowners as well as decision makers. They hold all the cards!
To publicise the plight of a given species, in my case Turtle Dove, I get in front of people face-to-face and use print and digital outlets to get the Dove Step campaign in front of as many people as possible. This output can then be linked to via social networks.
Therein lies my crucial point; social networks are not a means to an end in themselves and they are not usually effective in influencing decision makers.
Through the RSPB I received parliamentary training, which included briefing from an MP’s aid. It was made abundantly clear that 38 degrees (and similar) petitions will be disregarded, tweets are similarly ‘throw away’ and the best way to initiate meaningful correspondence remains via letter writing, attending MP’s surgeries and meeting them in person.
It is not a stretch of the imagination to realise that a tweet sent from your iPad on a Sunday evening does little but blow more hot-air into the ether where twitter handles including phrases such as ‘against’ and ‘action’ abound.
It is however the recent trend of supposed bird watchers and nature lovers to tweet senior RSPB staff with the threat of ‘cancelling membership’, which I take huge objection to. It is churlish, naïve and damaging. It validates untrue media assertions in articles such as ‘RSPB backs pheasant shoots and says they’re good for the countryside’ it puts out a message that conservationists are not on a united front. In recent cases people have tweeted without fully reading and understanding the context behind issues such as the T in the Park Osprey’s and indeed the RSPB stance on pheasants.
When someone says ‘I am cancelling my RSPB membership’ over a single, misunderstood point what they are actually saying is I don’t support the following:
To be categoric I can think of no organisation I would rather support and to spell it out; I will not be cancelling my RSPB membership.