Europe and Central Asia
16 Jan 2017

'Hope is the thing with feathers'

Newsletter - January 2017 (c) BirdLife ECA
By Angelo Caserta

This article is the editorial for the January edition of the BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Newsletter. To view this issue, click here.


“Hope” is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops – at all,

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Looking out and about from my perch here in Brussels, these words from poet Emily Dickinson speak to me and my colleagues as 2017 begins to unfold.  We have soared briefly on the high of the preservation of Europe’s essential Birds & Habitats Directives in December. This signal accomplishment was only attained through the combined persistence and hard work of the BirdLife partners across the continent, and our partner NGOs, and hundreds of thousands of committed and hopeful European citizens.

In December’s issue of this newsletter we began a look forward with a New Year’s wish list from colleagues for nature in 2017 and beyond. We continue that aspirational scan of the horizon this month with a summary from our Head of Conservation, Ivan Ramirez, who explains why your planet needs YOU.

Where we are headed is always a function of where we have been. So our partners share their pride in words and photos of what was accomplished in 2016, serving up a generous helping of hope for the months and years to come. One particular project as yet unattained is the restoration of the iconic Montenegrin salt works, Ulcinj Salina, and accompanying eco-tourism projects as opposed to the paving over of it all for a standard repeat of shore side holiday monstrosities. Gui-Xi Young explains just what’s at stake.

The success of the Nature Alert campaign and our partners’ tireless work girds us for the challenges ahead.  First and foremost we hope to work with these same colleagues, partners and committed nature defenders to ensure that the imminent public consultation on reforming agriculture will hear a loud and clear message from us all. Agriculture and the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy need major reform – the status quo destroys farmland birds and biodiversity, fails farmers and favors industry – all paid for generously by the European taxpayer to the tune of + EUR 50 billion. Let’s make sure the European Commission and Agri Commissioner Phil Hogan know just how much we want a healthy and sustainable food and farming system for our money, for farmers and for our families. Thom Quinn explains in a bit more detail the how and more.

We remain very concerned about the devastating if unintended consequences for nature from the EU’s poorly written energy laws which result in a disproportionate subsidized tilt towards bioenergy instead of other renewables like solar and wind, with horrific consequences for forests and on land use and climate change. We will release a powerful documentary on the subject in February, ‘The Burning Issue’, to complement November’s release of our ‘Black Book of Bioenergy: Good Intentions Gone Bad’. Sini Eräjää previews the underlying issues.

So hope, that thing with feathers.


And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard;

And sore must be the storm,

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm


I’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea,

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

-  Emily Dickinson 1830-1886


So in 2017, looking out across a scape that often does seem very chilly, I nourish myself with hope, yours and ours, to sail forward together into the Gale, and on ‘the strangest sea’. Here’s to the future.


Angelo Caserta is the Regional Director of BirdLife Europe & Central Asia.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.