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In 1889, Emily Williamson created the Society for the Protection of Birds with one core aim – to fight a fashion for feathers and exotic plumes that were driving birds including little egrets, great crested grebes and birds of paradise towards extinction. Her all-women movement was born out of frustration that the male-only British Ornithologists Union was not acting on the issue.
Emily’s efforts soon gathered pace and after joining forces with Etta Lemon and Eliza Phillps, the movement grew in popularity and influence. So much so, that in 1904 the society was awarded a Royal Charter, making it the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Eventually, the 1921 Importation of Plumage (Prohibition) Act was passed, marking the RSPB’s first successful campaign for nature.
The early 90s saw the RSPB consolidate its international efforts and in 1993, the society became a Partner of BirdLife International, the global partnership formed to join bird and conservation organisations worldwide. By 1997 RSPB membership passed over one million members and we are now the largest nature conservation charity in Europe.
Together with our members and supporters, the RSPB continues to work with the same determination and passion to save nature as that of our founders over 100 years ago.