Sponsored by Pentax this is an extended conversation with scientist, conservationist, and wildlife advocate Dr Mark Avery. Mark worked for the Royal Society’s Protection for Birds (RSPB) for 25 years until standing down in April 2011 to go freelance. He was the RSPB’s Conservation Director for nearly 13 years and has an encyclopedic knowledge of many of the ‘hottest’ of the UK’s conservation topics. In this interview he talks about how he joined the RSPB, his tussles with DEFRA and the NFU, intensive farming, raptor persecution (particularly of Hen Harriers on grouse moors), climate change, describes some politicians as “very average people”, talks about his concerns for wildlife in a world where people “put such demands on the environment”, and muses that he might become more outspoken now that he’s an independent – and manages to gently sidestep a few questions along the way. He also knows who the near-mythical Mr White of Reservoir Cats fame is – but isn’t telling!
Our conversation took place in the beer garden of a pub in Luton, and the interview has natural breaks where we finished off a burger (Mark) and a rapidly congealing toasted cheese sandwich (myself). Before we left Mark managed to sell this particular impoverished podcaster a copy of his (I freely admit) excellent book ‘Blogging for Nature’ which is very definitely well worth a read…
Advice: This podcast is sponsored by Pentax Sports Optics and their ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ conservation initiative. Go to http://www.pentax.co.uk/en/DeadOrAlive.html for more details
Founded in 1889, the RSPB is now the largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe. It speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that threaten the environment in both the UK and overseas. It acts as a powerful lobbying organisation, campaigning on issues as diverse as the location of windfarms through to the protection of UK waters to help safeguard our sealife.
The charity now has over a million members (including more than 170,000 youth members), 1300 employed staff, and over 13,000 volunteers. There is also a network of 175 local groups and more than 110 youth groups, with at least nine volunteers for every paid member of staff.
- Mark Avery’s website and blog: http://markavery.info/
- ‘Blogging for Nature’, Mark Avery’s book: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/blogging-for-nature/15539870 [A 'How to blog' guide and a selection of blogs from the Conservation Director of the RSPB. Foreword by Hilary Benn MP. Wildlife conservation issues from 2009-2011 in the UK - farming, climate change, illegal persecution, public spending cuts, non-native species, reintroductions and a lot more.]
- Reservoir Cats (Mr White): http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/reservoir-cats/15159416 [A scathing and irreverent view of birds, the people who watch them, the environment, and the people who screw it up. Funnier than that sounds...]
Dr Mark Avery, Luton, July 2011
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