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.
It's been a long week, and I've neglected the blog. Sorry about that!
Here, in a nutshell, are three things you may have missed:
1. Leaders did seal a deal in Hyderabad.
After the usual all-night negotiations, countries reached a consensus at the weekend on how to find the money to save the world's biodiversity. The parties have agreed to a ‘Hyderabad Roadmap’ with support to biodiversity conservation from developed to developing countries to be doubled to 10 billion US Dollars by 2015. As colleagues in Birdlife reported here, this feels like progress. Congratulations to all the negotiators for finding their way through the latest series of tough talks.
2. MPs vote against the badger cull
I am sure you did not miss the announcement about the postponement of the badger cull until next summer. However, you may not have noticed that, yesterday, the Government lost a vote on the badger cull. The Government lost by 147 votes to 28 on the following motion:
“That this House notes the e-petition on the planned badger cull, which has gathered more than 150,000 signatures; and calls on the Government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity.”
While the vote is not binding, I do think that this gives the Government another justification to think again. The proposed is extremely divisive. My fear is that anger will be allowed to fester. Farmers and badgers will be in exactly the same situation next summer. As so many have said, the science suggests that culling is not the answer to this serious and urgent problem.
I hope that Defra takes the opportunity to embrace a vaccination programme as the long-term solution for both livestock farmers and badgers.
3. More birdcrime
A former Suffolk police officer, Michael Upson has pleaded guilty at Norwich Magistrates Court of possessing 650 wild bird eggs collected while he was still in the Suffolk Constabulary. This comes a week after the Environmental Audit Committee issued its report into wildlife crime.
And finally, if you want to hear more about the challenges of keeping our birds of prey in the air, I suggest you listen to the latest edition of of Saving Species here.
And finally, finally, this blog will be quiet for a week as I shall be with the family during half-term. Here's hoping the week remains equally quiet for you and for wildlife...
Captaincarot - so sorry not to reply earlier. Will try and get you an update asap.
any thoughts on the reports of 5 glossy ibis being shot in cornwall by a farmer coming in?
A fourth win might be the fact that all Bristol Mayoral candidates are opposed to the Severn Barrage and in my view the barrage is now in "intensive care and on its death bed". The challenge is now to devise a plan to maximise the potential of the alternatives and start building and learning and doing re the UK tidal resource. there is a potential for "management" of the estuarine resource re waders and wildfowl also but it has to be in that order I am afraid.
A massive loss on which you have failed to report is the arrival of ash dieback in the UK. It is unbelievable that this rotten and incompetent government banned imports as this announcement was made. It defies belief that the "conservation and environmental" movement failed to make this simple objective happen; the Woodland Trust has to accept its campaign failed. Did it reach out for help to wider partners ? How is it that this has only crossed my radar very recently ?
Simon King is President of the Nature Trusts and ambassador for the Woodland Trust. What experience of campaigns does he have e.g he has never said a word on climate change post Rio 1992 and is utterly ineffective in my view . He should go. Really this is a low point and while this is not RSPB or FoE (the latter my background) I repeat I read the papers every day and am online a lot; how is it that this has only come onto my radar in the last two months ? I am really depressed about this and may move to France because ash is the love of my life; if I were a tree and were to have a lover then it would be the silver, sacred ash. I am I to have to watch my lover die ? This is failure not only of government but of the now career based and mortgaged nature conservation movement.
As you say Martin, three bits of good news, even if the last item finally halts a disgraceful episode by a police officer of all people. Obviously on a worldwide basis the outcome of the Hyderbad meeting is very important and encouraging. Let's hope this really translates into positive action on the ground. Lets hope that science prevails as far as the badgers are concerned and that the issue does not become a political football, because that is when rationality and science are disregarded.