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.
A few years ago I used to end a talk on climate change with an photo-shopped image of the Pope standing on a glacier. My point was simple - we needed leaders (of both faith and secular organisations) to give a clear message about the threat posed by climate change. My hope was that people around the world would listen and provide political leaders space to take action.
This was why I was so pleased to read the Pope's Encyclical, "Our Common Home", and delighted that it has received considerable media attention. It is an extraordinary essay outlining the scale of the challenge, providing the diagnosis of the problem and offering a comprehensive package of solutions. The timing felt good: it arrived a day after last week's climate lobby and a day before new research confirms that the Earth stands of the brink of its sixth mass extinction event.
Those without a faith may decide to to skip the religious passages, but there is a coruscating critique of the current response to our over-exploitation of the planet. In paragraph 54 he writes, "The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests. Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented."
He has laid down a papal gauntlet for the world's leaders to pick up. Their first big tests will be to agree new Sustainable Development Goals and a binding climate change deal at the end of the year.
Yet, leadership should also be judged by national action.
This is why, I look forward to receiving more detail about how the UK Government will align its climate change commitments to its manifesto commitments to develop two 25 year plans to a) to restore the UK’s biodiversity and b) food and farming. It would be a wasted opportunity to have two plans developed independently. The farming plan must, for example, be clear about it will support the commitment to restore farmland wildlife while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
My hope also is that the Natural Capital Committee whose life has been extended to at least the end of the next Parliament will have a role in both plans.
And, we'll also put our hand up to help.
Like others, we want to share our considerable experience.
Whatever happens, the RSPB will continue its charitable mission to work with others to protect nature wherever it goes while also encouraging more people to get involved to "save our common home".