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 my last working day of the year.
To celebrate, I thought I'd look back on some of the highlights (or lowlights) from 2012. And I promise you there will be no mention of Bradley Wiggins, Jess Ennis or even the Royal Family.
Here are the top ten most read blogs from the year.
1. My badger nightmares. The badger cull ended up being postponed (see here) but the debate has not gone away.
2. Why Defra is wrong about buzzards and why I am angry. Buzzardgate had a happy ending (see here).
3. Ambitions for Rio+20: a guest blog from the Deputy Prime Minister. Six months on it's clear that Rio failed to change the world and we are still crying out for political leadership on the environment.
4. GUEST BLOG: Jude Lane on the death of a hen harrier. I hope this is the last time I have to report on the illegal shooting of a hen harrier.
5. Why the RSPB has submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission regarding Natural England’s dealings with the Walshaw Moor Estate. The future of Natural England will be a key topic of debate in early 2013 (see here).
6. "It's hard to deal with hate". I hope to be able to report good news for cormorants in the new year as Defra completes its review of the licensing regime for fish-eating birds.
7. Chalara fraxinea: the next 48 hours are crucial. Ash dieback was a stark reminder that we need tougher biosecurity and regulation of species movements.
8. Make George's dream come true. Despite the rhetoric, the substance of the planning reforms and results of the review of Habitats Regulations brought great relief (see here and here).
9. D-Day approaches for farmland wildlife. The EU Budget talks collapsed (see here) but the horse-trading will begin again in early 2013.
10. I WANT TO BE A BUTTERFLY. I hope the girl, the boy, me and all of you get to see more wildlife in 2013.
Thanks for reading and have a peaceful break over Christmas.
Here's to a world richer in nature in 2013.
Hi Martin; I have the whole period off for the first time in 10 years so that feels good. just a reminder it is CAP reform time ( that interminable 7 year round) straight away in the New Year so I hope that RSPB are up and prepared with some hard hitting stats re its current deployment and distribution both geographically and the injustice of its focus on the richest of our landowners ? Politicians can only swim in the political sea provided; anyway a good New Year and lets vision the biodiversity impact of withdrawing all those systemic pesticides; "Return of the cuckoo" even ? We just do nt know do we; they are still abundant on the marginal fringes insect rich and nitrate and pesticide saturation free ?
Martin, I look forward to seeing the progress of these areas in 2013. There does seem to be a widening gap between the various parties so unfortunately there is some trepidation on my part as the outcome. The main thing at the moment though is to wish you a Happy Xmas and New Year.
It is interesting that almost all of these ten blogs, directly or indirectly involve the Government and of course politicians. I would like to recommend to them all that in their actions concerning wildlife protection and biodiversity improvement in 2013 and beyond, that they are guided and take to heart, a guotation from the bible, (appropriate at this time of year) The quotation is this;
"You shall not side with the powerful against the powerless".