I love a good list. And the BBC Wildlife Magazine ‘power list’ is my kind of list, championing the people that are doing their bit and more for the natural world. It’s a list that you can believe in rather than the Sunday Times rich list which is all about people with loads of money.
Lists always generate a lot of conversation. Who is top of the pops, who is missing and which people should have made it on to list?
I was a bit surprised I have to admit to see a lack of National Trust representation on the list. All of the people on the list are at the forefront of wildlife work but it seemed to be a fairly sizeable hole without any one from the Trust on there.
Over the last decade I’ve had the pleasure of working with Trust rangers and experts (we’re the only conservation organisation in the UK with an in-house biological survey team – animal, insect and plant ecologists). They’re a passionate bunch, they have great stories to tell and they’re doing amazing things to connect people and nature and to create the right conditions for wildlife to flourish.
Sometimes it creates a moment of existential angst when you lists like this one from BBC Wildlife Magazine: why does it feel like the Trust’s wildlife work lacks public recognition. After all that has been my job for the last eight years. Am I doing something wrong? There is always a lot of interest in the nature stories that we tell and we have reach a wide audience and our rangers and experts profiles have begun to rise.
It’s worth pausing to think about a potted history of the Trust and it’s cycles. For the first 40 years of its life it was all about green spaces. Then in the 1930s came the country house scheme to save the great stately home under threat, which has pretty much dominated the narrative of the organisation for the last 70 years. In 1965 the Trust launched a bold and brave campaign to buy coast and save it from the real threat of development – think costa del Dorset.
Wildlife has always been in the DNA of the Trust – it acquired the amazingly species rich Wicken Fen back in 1899. And the new ten year vision for the National Trust has put land, nature and outdoors at the heart of the organisations work in the decade ahead because there are so many massive challenges – climate change, habitat loss, development, intensive farming etc.
This will be make a big difference. The focus of the organisation is firmly on the nature agenda and we need to use all of our communication channels to tell this story effectively and consistently.
So take some time to see the Trust anew. Any list of top wildlife sites in the UK would include many National Trust places. Maybe it’s not one individual that should be celebrated for their contribution to nature conservation but the whole community of people that look after our places from the Farne Islands to the Lizard in Cornwall and Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland to Hafod y Llan in Snowdonia – the rangers, volunteers and ecologists.