Probably no surprise I quite like forests, and ‘biodiversity’ (whatever that actually means), having grown up on a noisy smallholding in the muddy depths of the New Forest. Like many people, I don’t really like it when we cut forests down….but as I’ve grown up, wandered around the world a bit and learnt more (some insights I’ve recorded here), from some wonderful teachers along the way, I appreciate that there are many reasons why forests must fall. Though ‘must’ is often a prerogative, not an absolute necessity, I realise now that the thoughts and feelings behind the chainsaw are the key factors that need to be considered if deforestation is to be understood and managed. I like to think of myself as an ecologist, and a tropical ecologist as much as my experience can stretch; but perhaps a conservation ecologist is most apt, with the conservation part reflecting the attempts in my work to consider the fundamental human component of every conservation story. One of my favourite quotes is that “conservation is the management of human behaviour” (Chan, 2008).
Until 2013, I was based at the University of Oxford, transitioning from PhD to postdoc (more details on that research); then I played the role of Dr Satellite Swampy (Peat Subject Matter Expert) for Rezatec Ltd. working on a feasibility project funded by the ESA, amongst other fun. After that, I ventured north to the University of Liverpool, to work on a project to enhance ecological connectivity for key species in tropical landscapes via a web-based decision support tool, Condatis. And now, the playbus has stopped at St Andrews. I’m working with an interdisciplinary dream team on a two year Leverhulme Trust funded project with the goal of valuing intact tropical peatlands in the Peruvian Amazon, as a (proper!) Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Ecology. My LinkedIn page gives some more background on what I’ve got up to to date, and here’s my CV.
One of my favourite pastimes is trying to figure out why people are, or aren’t interested in the environment. How can the disinterested be inspired to become environmental stewards? I’m trying to contribute through getting involved in environmental education whenever I can – something I feel very passionate about (though possibly an invalid approach to Pathways to Impact?). If something I muse about interests you, here is more info on how you can get muddy.
And what has and continues to inspire me? Here are some of my top sources:
- Jane Goodall and her wise solution to the challenges she sees to environmental stewardship today
- Sir David
- My Mum’s project
- One of the great many great projects belonging to my Dad
- The words twittered out by Rob Macfarlane
- Face Equality International, founded by the incredibly inspiring James Partridge OBE
- The International Peatland Society, for their passion to promote responsible peatland management (for no pennies) against continued peat extraction (in part by its members….hmm)
- Conservation Bytes – hugely refreshing, honest and wise words from the pragmatic conservation scientist, Corey Bradshaw
- Project Awesome – this used to get me up and on my bike, three times a week, come rain or shine, before 6am, sometimes in a zebra outfit….without any sign of a grumble – join the inspiring crew in London and Liverpool!