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.
Caroline Spelman has made a video for us, encouraging us all to read the Government’s shiny new Natural Environment White Paper. It’s only a couple of minutes long and it looks as if our intrepid Secretary of State endured a rather blustery day on the North York Moors on the day it was filmed.
It’s almost three months to the day since Mrs Spelman helped us to launch our Stepping Up for Nature campaign. Has Mrs Spelman stepped up? Well, the NEWP suggests that she is keen to do so, but her real challenge will be to encourage her Cabinet colleagues, especially Eric Pickles at CLG, to deliver on Defra’s ambitions. Or, at the very least, to make sure that Defra’s efforts to safeguard wildlife and the environment aren’t derailed by other departments.
Thanks to Mrs Spelman for recording this message for us, and for risking a bad hair day on our behalf! I know how it feels – every day is a bad hair day for me...
PS Here's a little piece that I did for Farming Today.
Hear, hear, Jenni!
How much do I agree with the above comment!
The problem of desk bound officials issuing directives is only made worse when they seem unable or unwilling to listen to what local people and farmers are saying. It isn't even good enough to listen to a couple of people as conditions can vary so very much over a very small area. What is good in one place may be hopeless even ten miles down the road. We need policies that can be flexible enough to encourage and officials who are more concerned with the guy they are talking to rather than their own careers.
"God gave us two ears and one mouth" should be written above every office door in every governmental building!!!
Think Caroline Spelman means well but can she influence others and you would not believe the low opinion lots of farmers have of DEFRA officials who have a terrible record of relations with farmers.Sad to say lots of them have no experience of farming so how can they tell farmers what to do.Those that do know something about farming can be really obnoxious individuals but somewhere out there there must be a few friendly ones,to those I say well done but you will be lucky if your superiors do not give you orders that embarrass you.