By now many people in the UK will have seen the new TV advertisement issued by the RSPB and be aware of their new strapline "Giving nature a home". All change is subject to personal reaction and I confess there are many aspects over which I don't feel that I have yet arrived at a final conclusion!
The RSPB has embarked on a major change, a robust embracing of a wider range of responsibilities than previously which involves all wildlife in the UK. At its most uncomplicated level any promotion associated with the needs of our native wildlife is to be welcomed, particularly given the current apathy exhibited by the existing Government coalition. Following the recent issue of the State of the Nation report there has rightly been concerned comment about the parlous position our wildlife now occupies in the UK. This is a situation we all need to contemplate seriously and take action on whenever possible. The RSPB's recent initiative therefore links with this requirement very closely.
I'm not a "marketeer", whatever that really means, but I actually fail to see what message the reduction of the Society's initials to lower case in its new logo is meant to convey. Is it simply a fad, a modernism and a fact that such things no longer need to actually "stand" for anything? Perhaps it ought to have gone the whole hog and submitted to the formal process of changing its name entirely to the Royal Society for the Protection of Wildlife (rspw )!! Undoubtedly there will be some who feel the payment of their annual subscription, aimed at gaining action for birds, has now in some way been reduced. Time will tell whether such problems will arise and what the effects will be. It is up to the RSPB to ensure it doesn't lose any of that positioning for which it has fought so hard to achieve. There is also a risk taken by the RSPB in terms of whether the attitudes and affiliation of long standing supporters will change. Certainly there has been a long held perception that the RSPB has been the body best equipped to defend the interests of birds, campaign for change and so on. I doubt that will change and, therefore, it is incumbent on the RSPB to provide the necessary assurances that, despite the most recent changes, all such activity will still constitute "business as usual".
I do worry a little about one aspect. There are other organizations within the UK pledged to conserving and campaigning for wildlife, not least the County Wildlife Trusts. By implication, this self-embracing of responsibility for all wildlife by the RSPB rather suggests these tasks have not sufficiently been realised in the past. Whether a designed effect or otherwise, one that perhaps requires some diplomatic footwork in the near future!! Again, whilst the TV promotion could result in the RSPB gaining more members and a better future for wildlife, might it also result in support being poured into the single pot as opposed to shared around? I would guess there are some people at County level who might feel the best desserts for their wildlife might not be met to the best effect in the future. I'm sure all this has occurred to the RSPB and the necessary liaison indulged in to ensure no divisions arise.
Doubtless a lot of this change has been sparked off by the ever growing following of programmes like the BBC's SpringWatch. And why not? There is obviously a huge "conservation constituency" out there who can hopefully be wooed into offering financial support, however modest, that will result in better circumstances arising for our wildlife. The task will then be to convert them through exposure, education and involvement into an active membership, willing to lobby Government and bring about greater commitment via policy changes aimed at lasting improvement. A big ask, a long game and a hard task.
RSPB/rspb, all success!!