My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
I've started my new job as Conservation Director of the RSPB today.
I feel lucky to be doing a job that I love with a bunch of brilliant people around me.
My challenge is simple: to try to protect and build on Mark Avery's legacy and do more to look after the millions of species with with we share this planet. Mark has made an enormous contribution to the RSPB and nature conservation over the past quarter of a century. Having worked with him closely for more than a decade - he was my boss for the last seven - I, and I know many others, will miss his passion, insight and plain-speaking.
One thing I won't thank Mark for is the in-tray that I have inherited. Those of you who have enjoyed reading his top twenty sticky issues will appreciate that the environment movement, and the RSPB in particular, has its work cut out to help and cajole governments to meet their ambitious commitment to halt biodiversity loss and begin its recovery by the end of the decade. The political climate is not easy - there is currently little money to go around, successive governments have pursued a deregulatory agenda and pressures on modern life mean that there is less time for people to stop, think and appreciate the wonders of the natural world. But I am an optimist: most of the problems facing wildlife - from non-native species to climate change - are fixable. We know what needs to be done, but often leadership and political will are lacking.
I will work with my new boss, Mike Clarke, to ensure that the RSPB does whatever it needs with political intelligence, creativity and courage. I am sure that any of you reading this will tell me when we fall short.
Thanks for the advice, Bob. I am sure that I will get lots of wise words through these pages over the coming weeks. And, thanks again, Sooty, for your insight. I will blog on some of the farming challenges soon...
Agree with Bob,we seem to be agreeing a lot at the moment and it is easy for us to give advice.One thing I think would help is if people stopped trying to put farmers on the back foot,unless RSPB strives for good relationship with farmers wildlife will be the loser.I realise that the N F U probably seems indifferent to wildlife but individual farmers please themselves what they do.
Think you may know but if not look into the number of birds attracted to patches of land sown with wild bird seed mixtures and compare that with near barren field boundaries,now if the RSPB pushed for grants to go that way bird numbers would improve,the evidence strangely enough is there on your own Arne reserve,have a word with Paul and Rob,by the way I think the RSPB does great almost all the time but one or two things can still be improved.
Martin, Congratulations and welcome to the new job and this blog. History tells me I would be very uncertain about which one might be the more interesting.
Can I try and correct you on one thing and I am sure Mark won't mind. Don't try and build on Mark Avery's legacy just go ahead and build your own. People move on and organisations move on and change. Change means remembering the past but more importantly looking at the future.
This blog won't give you experience you have got enough of that. This blog will undoubtedly give you advice but what you do with that is up to you.
Good morning Martin and welcome to your new job as RSPB Conservation Director, not an easy one we know, particularly in these uncertain times. We wish you all the very best in your new role and will be watching your new blog with great interest.
Like you, we too will miss Mark and wish him well in everything he does in the future
Friends of the North Kent Marshes