Events Archive

Since 2009, New Networks for Nature have organised a series of annual events designed to explore new perspectives in our cultural and creative responses to birds, nature and wildlife, and to challenge certain narrowly defined but prevailing views on the environment.

Nature Matters: In Touch with the Wild
September 2016, Cambridge

Sir David Attenborough Photo © Cheryl-Samantha Owen

Our 2016 event, Nature Matters 2016: In Touch with the Wild, was held in collaboration with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative in the new David Attenborough Building.

Two-and-a-half days of panels, discussions, breakouts and workshops created a cocktail of traditional New Networks for Nature and collaborative innovations, concluding with an inspirational address from David Attenborough himself. It was an exhilarating time, and some 250 people went home buzzing with new energy. (more…)

Full 2016 programme

Nature Matters 2016
   — Storified by Kate Risely


Nature Matters: Place and Belonging
November 2015, Stamford

Ruth Padel and Germaine Greer Photo © Tim Birkhead

The 2015 meeting of New Networks for Nature was again held at the Stamford Arts Centre and featured another very rich and varied programme of events spread over three days. The overall theme for the meeting was ‘Place and Belonging’ – the foundation of our interactions with the natural world, the link with generations past and future, and the way we ground our own sense of identity. The meeting began with one of our Thursday evening ‘celebrity’ interviews, except that Germaine Greer, who was interviewed by Ruth Padel, was invited in this case not because of her media status but to discuss her new book, White Beech, about a patch of rainforest she has reclaimed in Queensland, Australia. Germaine Greer has an extensive knowledge of botany and wildlife and the discussion ranged widely (as you might expect) over many aspects of conservation, both in Australia and in the UK. Among the other sessions involving well-known figures in subsequent highlight sessions were a very intense and engaging debate by George Monbiot and Tony Juniper, a moving film by John Aitchison, a discussion chaired by Baroness Young involving four eminent and outspoken panel members and a talk by Richard Fortey. But these were all embedded in a range of stimulating performances and presentations from artists, musicians, scientists, authors and conservationists whose variety is such a distinctive feature of these meetings. Innovations this year included an attractive brochure, featuring several of our contributing artists and authors, and the filming of some key sessions.

George Monbiot and Tony Juniper Photo © Tim Birkhead

A film of the debate ‘The Real Value of Nature’, featuring George Monbiot and Tony Juniper, is available in Presentations.

Nature Studies: Is it possible to put a price on nature? And if we can, should we?
by Michael McCarthy in The Independent

Full 2015 programme

Nature Matters 2015
   — Storified by Kate Risely


Nature Matters: A Sense of Scale
November 2014, Stamford

Country Diarists Photo © Mary Colwell

The 2014 meeting of New Networks for Nature was held again at the Stamford Arts Centre and featured another stimulating and varied programme of events spread over three days. The overall theme for the meeting was ‘A Sense of Scale’ – the ways in which our responses to nature and our perceptions of it may range from local to global, micro to macro, short- to long-term and historical to contemporary. The meeting began with an evening celebrating the work of Richard Mabey, ‘in conversation’ with Tim Dee. The subsequent sessions included musical and poetic performances, literary readings, presentations from naturalists and scientists, a discussion by current contributors to the Guardian Country Diary and a panel discussion involving eminent speakers on the politics of conservation, which attracted lively audience participation. The meeting as a whole was again adjudged a great success and, as our name promises, an important opportunity for meeting old friends and making new ones.

Full 2014 programme

Nature Matters 2014
   — Storified by Kate Risely


Nature Matters in Time and Place
November 2013, Stamford

Chris Packham and Bill Oddie Photo © Larry Wilkes

Art Exhibition: Living on the Edge Photo © Tim Birkhead

The fifth New Networks meeting was held at Stamford in November 2013, taking as its theme, ‘Nature Matters in Time and Space’. It featured a stimulating range of events, starting with the BBC wildlife presenters, Chris Packham and Bill Oddie ‘in conversation’ and continuing with a discussion by a distinguished panel of the political conservation issues arising, various themed sessions on eating nature, virtual nature, what it is to be a naturalist, invasive species and the engagement of artists with nature, all supported by poetry readings, musical performances and a major art exhibition. This was another exciting and very well attended programme, extending over three separate days.

Full 2013 programme

Organic lunch Photo © Ruth Padel

Nature Matters
November 2012, Stamford


The fourth meeting was again at Stamford, now regarded as a natural home for these events, and represented a further expansion of the event over three days, including many distinguished speakers and two new features – an interview with the famous author Ronald Blythe and a high-powered panel discussion in an ‘Any Questions’ format. The event was reported nationally and is now acquiring real momentum and political significance.

Full 2012 programme

Voices for Nature
November 2011, Stamford

The third meeting built on the successes of the earlier ones. It was based at the Arts Centre in Stamford and expanded to run into a second day at Helpston, John Clare’s birthplace. Clare’s spirit was one underlying theme, but this very well attended meeting again emphasized the sheer diversity of possible responses to the natural world beyond the narrowly econometric, with some outstanding musical and poetic contributions alongside the other presentations.

Full 2011 programme

Birds, Nature and Creativity
November 2010, Thetford

Mark Cocker, Jonathan Elphick and Richard Mabey

The second New Networks meeting (and it had by then given itself this name) was hosted by the BTO in Thetford, was also a one-day event, and was designed to reflect dissatisfactions with the low political priority placed nationally on nature conservation, expanding the agenda beyond birds to include wildlife more generally.

Full 2010 programme

Birds, Culture and Conservation
December 2009, Oxford

The very first meeting of the New Networks for Nature group focused on birds and was a one-day event held in Oxford in 2009 to bring together a wide range of creative practitioners, authors, scientists and conservation professionals to enlarge and to challenge some of the standard scientific and conservation perspectives.

Full 2009 programme


September 2016, Cambridge

November 2015, Stamford

“Thanks so much for an excellent event. Great organisation, wonderful group of people there. I‘ll flag next year‘s dates in the diary now.”
   — Tony Juniper,
      Author and Environmental Activist

“It was an honour to be asked to speak at such an inspirational event so thank you for the opportunity.”
   — Mary Colwell,
      Radio Producer and Author

“I thought this 7th New Networks was inspiring – it was everything you intended it to be from the start. I had a wonderful sense of all these sparkling minds brought together like flowers in a meadow”
   — Michael McCarthy
      Author and Journalist


November 2014, Stamford

“What an amazing 2 1/2 days at my 1st @networks4nature event. Feeling truly inspired and excited!”
   — Sam Nightingale

“Not sure how to sum up @networks4nature conference. Overwhelming. Inspiring. Emotional. Mind blowing. Diversity. Uplifting.”
   — Lizzie Bruce

“Had a glorious time at #NatureMatters14 in Stamford today.”
   — Helen Macdonald
      Author, H is for Hawk