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.
This may have passed you by, but tomorrow (15 November) the country goes to the polls again. So I shall take a short break from the day-to-day commentary of ash die-back and the rather dry business of insitutional reform to provide you with an election special.
Whatever you think about these elections, there is (perhaps surprisingly) a chance for the successful candidates to make a difference for wildlife.
First, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will be elected in England and Wales, guiding police forces in prioritising their work and ensuring that crime affecting local communities is addressed. This is an opportunity to put a spotlight on wildlife crime. We have approached candidate lists in persecution hotspots in E&W and asked them to, if elected:
- Make a clear statement that bird of prey persecution is unacceptable.
- Ensure at least one full-time specialist Wildlife Crime Officer is employed in their force area.
- Ensure efforts to tackle bird of prey persecution are appropriately resourced and prioritised.
- Coordinate enforcement activities with the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
Please do what you can to influence successful candidates so that once elected, PCCs are aware of their responsibilities and know how to step up and protect our wildlife.
Second, fancy a chance to vote for a wild mayor? No - not Boris, but a serious proposition for our second richest city outside London, world famous for music, a beacon of culture, a pioneer in green technology, a leading business centre, with an internationally renowned port, and sitting on the fabulously nature-rich Severn estuary.
Yes, the people of Bristol have a chance to vote for their Mayor. Bristol is the only UK city in the bidding to be named the most environmentally-friendly city (2015 European Green Capital award) in Europe.
To help this along, green groups including the RSPB, laid out for the new Mayor five ‘asks’ for nature as part of our 'wild mayor campaign' . These challenges frame the major issues influencing Bristol, its people and its wildlife: nature rich green space for all, a city rich in wildlife, reconnecting children with nature, a Green Capital that has nature at its heart, and Severn tidal power in harmony with the natural environment.
With the newly created Mayor having powers similar to that of the Mayor of London, and with central government devolving power and resources on transport, infrastructure and the economy, Bristol has an opportunity to find new solutions to local problems. We have been pleased with the support shown by the leading candidates to the wild mayor asks. So, as the people of Bristol go to the polls, can they dare to be hopeful for a wild Bristol in years to come?
If you intend to vote tomorrow - please do vote with nature in mind.
Hi Martin; Thanks for mention of "Bristle"; all 5 principle Mayoral candidates are "tidal" but what combination of lagoons, reefs and small barrage are they signing up to; how much power will that generate, how much will it cost financially, where is that coming from and what is the impact re "ecology". Can we have some sharp focus as to "the alternative". Dawn Primarolo MP is the senior pro tidal while Doug Naysmith, Councillor of Avonmouth is on the NEC; can we have a serious push to nail a realtime alternative instead of this which re tidal is a bit"waffle". Otherwise good ! (I have responded to yesterday Grauniad letter re ash die back (if I am printed) and will be writing to all the signatories re horses and stable doors). I am going to buy some land in France at the southern edge of the ash range this summer.