Celebrating over 100 years of saving nature through campaigns

This content is sponsored by RSPB

This content is sponsored by RSPB

How campaigning continues to be vital in the fight to save nature.

In July 2021, we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 Plumage (Prohibition) Act and the RSPB’s first successful campaign focused on saving nature.

Campaigning for nature since 1889

From the fight against feathers in fashion to tackling the nature and climate emergency, here’s a short film to show you how the RSPB has been saving nature for over 100 years.

Meet the woman who helped save over a million birds

In 1889, sickened by a slaughter of exotic birds for their feathers, Emily Williamson started the Society for the Protection of Birds to campaign for change. Her efforts helped bring about the 1921 Plumage (Prohibition) Act and the founding of a global force to save nature – the RSPB.

Emily Williamson’s amazing achievement is to be commemorated with a statue at her former home in Fletcher Moss, near Manchester. Read more about Emily Williamson here.

ahp founders team duchess of portland mrs lemon history - saving nature

A determined team for nature

Others too were determined to protect wild birds from the whims of fashion, and Emily Williamson joined forces with Etta Lemon and Eliza Phillips of the Fur, Fin and Feather Folk of Croydon, and Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland.

Together they campaigned tirelessly for change and in July 1921 the Plumage (Prohibition) Act was passed, banning the import of plumage. The campaign to protect wild birds was the first successful campaign by the RSPB and solidified our role as a conservation organisation that works for nature both in the UK and internationally.

ahp feathers in fashion magazines history - saving nature

Fighting feathers in fashion

From the 1870s to the 1920s the fashion for feathers in ladies’ hats was huge and tragically driving birds such as little egrets, great crested grebes and birds of paradise towards extinction.

The campaign against this ‘murderous millinery’ was fought on all fronts. RSPB supporters across the country wrote letters to women wearing feather hats, spoke to the shopkeepers that stocked them, and sought influence with prominent figures from politicians to the royal family.

ahp rspb staff on lambeth bridge showing their support for the time is now mass lobby - saving nature

Over 100 years of saving nature through successful campaigning

Campaigning continues to be vital in the fight to save nature. Thanks to you – our members and supporters – land has been saved from harmful development and birds that were close to extinction have been brought back.

We have seen red kites return to our skies, ospreys breed once more in Britain and white-tailed eagles recolonise parts of Scotland. Little egrets – once hunted for their plumage and pushed to extinction in the UK – now fly free.

Did you know?

Around a third of RSPB income is from people like you who choose to leave a gift in their Will. By pledging a gift in your Will, you will help to secure a future for nature, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations. We can’t imagine a world without skylarks, puffins, red squirrels and hedgehogs, which is why we work hard to protect our wonderful wildlife and the places it lives.

Download your Gifts in Wills guide

Leave a lasting impression on the future of nature. Download our Gifts in Wills guide to find out how nature could benefit from your legacy.

If you enjoyed Celebrating over 100 years of saving nature through campaigns, you’ll find more content like it at RSPB – Gifts in Wills.

This content is sponsored by RSPB

Tags: Last modified: December 2, 2021

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