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.
Today is my last working day of the year. In a fit of indulgence, I have selected my favourite blogs from the year - one from each month.
It's been quite a year.
This time last year, we did not know that tidal surges and the worst winter rainfall on record would have such a dramatic impact on our natural landscapes and affect the policy landscape especially regarding farming in floodplains and the relative merits of dredging of rivers (see February).
This time last year, Sir Ian Botham was simply my childhood cricketing hero and grumpy commentator on telly . We could not have predicted that he would join forces with the shooting community to launch a crude and aggressive attack on the RSPB (see October).
This time last year, we might have predicted that the new European Commission would have such a pro-growth and deregulatory agenda, but we perhaps were not expecting such a direct challenge to the EU Nature Directives which underpin action here and across Europe (see September).
But it is testimony to the extraordinary commitment to our staff, volunteers and supporters that in 2014 we have still managed to do so many great things (see November).
So, here in chronological order are my favourite blogs of the year.
January: The CAP Deal across the UK: looking back and looking forward
February: Preventing future floods: the role of land management and the CAP
March: Are we fit to frack?
April: Migrants on my mind
May: Stories from Orkney
June: Why it's time to license driven grouse shooting
July: What the RSPB thinks about the proposed Defra Hen Harrier Action Plan
August: Why I am voting for Bob
September: Why European President Juncker has chosen the wrong path
October: Say it ain't so, Beefy
November: What a wonderful world
December: The recipe for success: the story of the Bittern's recovery
I expect more of the unexpected next year. But amidst the economic, political and environmental uncertainty, I look forward to blogging about...
...more great science to help us find solutions to 21st century conservation problems
...more land under our management
...more advice that we shall be giving to landowners to manage their land with wildlife in mind and to businesses to clean up their supply chain
...more sites protected from stupid developments hopefully including Lodge Hill
...laws that have been protected to protect our nature
...new ways for people that love nature to get involved
And most importantly...
Thank you for reading!
Happy Christmas and here's to a successful 2015.
I am delighted to hear that, Vanellus. I hope many more join you in 2015.
Thanks for re-awakening my inner activist. Next year I am determined to find out more about nature's problems then say more and do more to help solve them. Merry Christmas!