New Networks for Nature is run by a steering group consisting of Carry Akroyd, Tim Birkhead, Mary Colwell, Jonathan Elphick, John Fanshawe, Matt Howard, Gill Kerby, Richard Kerridge, Harriet Mead, Jeremy Mynott, Derek Niemann, Rosamond Richardson, Kate Risely and Mike Toms.
Carry Akroyd is a painter and printmaker whose subject is the landscape, with a particular interest in history and wildlife. A member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, she is the jacket artist for British Wildlife Publishing’s The British Wildlife Collection series of books, and illustrated Tweet of the Day, the book of the Radio 4 series. She has also illustrated three books of John Clare’s poetry, and continues to create a seam of work relating to the ‘Peasant Poet’ and his relevance to today. Carry curated and edited Wildlife in Printmaking, and has written a book about her own work and inspirations, natures powers & spells: Landscape Change, John Clare and me. She exhibits regularly in a few small galleries.
Tim Birkhead is a professor of behaviour and evolution at the University of Sheffield. His research on promiscuity and sperm competition in birds helped to re-shape current understanding of bird mating systems. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2004. As well as a passion for research, Tim is committed to undergraduate teaching and the public understanding of science. His talks (like The Early Birdwatchers) and popular science books have gained widespread recognition: The Wisdom of Birds (2008) won ‘bird book of the year award’ and Bird Sense (2012) was short-listed for the Royal Society Winton Prize. His most recent books are Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin (2014) and The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg (2016).
Mary Colwell is a producer of TV, radio and internet programmes, specialising in the areas of natural history and religion. She has made major Radio 4 series such as Saving Species, Shared Planet and The History of Natural History. For TV she produced British Isles – A Natural History, Bill Oddie Goes Wild, Wildlife On One and Natural World. In 2009 she won a Radio Academy Sony Gold for a podcast about a prisoner caring for a budgerigar. She is a feature writer for the Catholic think-tank journal The Tablet and has advised the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on environmental issues. Her first book, John Muir – The Man Who Saved America’s Wild Places, was published in 2014. At present she is working on her second book on kindness and nature and producing a series for Radio 4 on animal sentience.
Jonathan Elphick is a naturalist, specialising in ornithology, who has worked since 1969 as a writer, editor and consultant for many publishers, including the Natural History Museum (NHM) and the BBC. He is a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. His many books include The Birdwatcher’s Handbook, an award-winning BBC field guide to the birds of Britain and Ireland, Birds: The Art of Ornithology, Great Birds of Europe, the bestselling multimedia title Birdsong and a major new book for the NHM, The World of Birds. Jonathan was researcher on two vital celebrations of the cultural importance of birds by Mark Cocker, Birds Britannica and Birds and People. Apart from wildlife, his interests include the history of natural history, gardening, food and cookery, ethnomusicology, singing, local history and the interface between science and the arts. He lives next to the Exe Estuary in Devon.
John Fanshawe is an author and environmentalist based in north Cornwall. Over the last three decades, he has worked on bird and biodiversity conservation in the UK, Kenya and Tanzania; primarily for the charity BirdLife. With Terry Stevenson, he is co-author of a field guide, Birds of East Africa (2001), and with Nigel Redman and Terry Stevenson of Birds of the Horn of Africa (2009). With Mark Cocker, he edited and published the complete works of the author J. A. Baker, including The Peregrine, in 2010. Working as a senior strategy adviser for BirdLife, and as an arts, science and conservation adviser for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), he has a particular interest in the role of arts practice in conservation, is a member of the research cluster RANE, and has an MA in Art and Environment from University College Falmouth.
Matt Howard works for the RSPB as Community Fundraiser in Eastern England. He has worked for the RSPB since 2010, having fled the insurance industry after thirteen years’ service. Through his work with the RSPB, Matt has established The RSPB and The Rialto Nature Poetry Competition in partnership with leading independent UK poetry magazine, The Rialto. His own poems have appeared widely in leading magazines since 2008 and his debut pamphlet with Eyewear Publishing will be published in late 2014 / early 2015.
Gill Kerby is a scientist and editor with a lifelong interest in natural history and animal behaviour. Brought up on a farm and going on to study behavioural ecology with Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Group, she has long been interested in the countryside and wildlife matters. Gill first worked at the interface of agriculture and conservation and then spent nearly 20 years with the British Ecological Society as Managing Editor of Journal of Applied Ecology and now edits In Practice, the bulletin of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. She has always worked to improve communication between scientists and practitioners for the benefit of biodiversity. Gill is a Trustee of the Lincolnshire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and spends much of her spare time exploring the wildlife and wild places in Rutland and around Stamford.
Richard Kerridge is a nature writer and ecocritic. Cold Blood: Adventures with Reptiles and Amphibians, published by Chatto & Windus in 2014, is a mixture of memoir and nature writing. Richard’s work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in BBC Wildlife, Poetry Review and Granta. He was awarded the 2012 Roger Deakin Prize by the Society of Authors, and has twice received the BBC Wildlife Award for Nature Writing. Richard leads the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and has published numerous essays giving environmental readings of literature. He was co-editor of Writing the Environment, the first collection of ecocritical essays to be published in Britain, and a leading member of the team of creative writers and scientists led by SueEllen Campbell that wrote The Face of the Earth: Natural Landscapes, Science and Culture. He was founding Chair of the UK branch of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment.
Harriet Mead is an award-winning sculptor and the President of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA). The influence of her late father, the ornithologist, author and broadcaster, Chris Mead, meant it was probably inevitable that she should take an interest in natural history and use it in her work. During her time at the helm of the SWLA, Harriet has worked to broaden their audience and to shrug off the negative connotations of wildlife art. Having worked on various projects with the Artists for Nature Foundation, she also has plans to encourage conservation organisations to make use of the SWLA pool of artists to help bring a different perspective to their projects and to highlight areas of conservation concern all over the world.
Jeremy Mynott spent most of his professional career in publishing at Cambridge University Press, working successively as editor, editorial director, managing director and chief executive. He has explored the variety of human responses to birds in Birdscapes: Birds in Our Imagination and Experience (2009), a book described by reviewers as ‘the finest book ever written about why we watch birds’ (Guardian), ‘a ground-breaking work’ (British Birds) and ‘wonderful rumination on birds and birders through space and time for anyone interested in our relationship with nature’ (THES). He has recently published Knowing your Place, an account of the wildlife in a tiny Suffolk hamlet; and his current project is a cultural history of Birds in the Ancient World. He is an Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, has broadcast on radio and television, and is a regular reviewer for the TLS.
Derek Niemann has spent 28 years as a volunteer and professional communicator in nature conservation, making up for a lost childhood in which he was “an enthusiastic, untutored and inept naturalist”. In November 2014 he left the RSPB to become a freelance writer and editor, after spending 16 years as editor of the RSPB’s youth magazines. He has been a fortnightly Country Diarist for the Guardian since 2005 and is also a regular contributor to BBC Wildlife. He has written a number of wildlife books for children, as well as Birds in a Cage, the true story of POW birdwatchers. Derek lives in a county that its own council used to undersell spectacularly on road signs that proclaimed: “Welcome to Bedfordshire – central to the Oxford–Cambridge Arc”.
Rosamond Richardson is an author, journalist and walker who is at her happiest wandering about in wild places. Her Natural Histories of Wild Flowers, a dazzling survey of wild flowers in culture and history, will be published by the National Trust in Spring 2017. She is a regular contributor to The Countryman, and a monthly columnist for BirdWatching magazine. Her Waiting for the Albino Dunnock is about how the beauty and fascination of birds changed her life, looking also at their relationship to landscape and the natural world, and to man. Illustrated by Carry Akroyd, the book will be published in Spring 2017 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Kate Risely is the Garden BirdWatch organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, and has worked for the BTO since 2004 organising ‘citizen science’ projects. Before moving to Garden BirdWatch, Kate has worked with Breeding Bird Survey volunteers and bird ringers, and believes that public engagement with the natural world can be harnessed to collect information vital for science and conservation. As well as editing the Garden BirdWatch magazine, Bird Table, and contributing to scientific publications, Kate writes monthly articles for Bird Watching magazine, aiming to communicate our volunteer-derived knowledge of bird populations in an accessible way. Kate loves identifying and surveying birds, moths, butterflies and marine wildlife, and is developing her photographic skills both above and under water.
Twitter feed: @katerisely
Mike Toms is an Associate Director at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), responsible for science communication. Much of his work is geared towards public engagement in ‘Citizen Science’, delivering quality research through networks of keen amateurs. He has been with the BTO since 1994 and has also worked on owls, bird migration, monitoring methods and mammals (amongst others) during his time with the organisation. Mike sees a real need for scientists to communicate the results of their work in ways that engage more effectively with a wider audience. With an artistic background, he also seeks to promote experiences of the natural world, adding context to the rather dry and often formal outputs of the scientific community. Mike is a regular contributor to BBC Wildlife magazine, a columnist for the Eastern Daily Press and author of several books, including the Collins New Naturalist volume on owls.
Blog: www.in-the-countryside.blogspot.com Twitter feed: @miketoms
Past Steering Group Members
Mark Cocker (20092013); Paul Jepson (20092012); Rob Lambert (20112014); Stephen Moss (20112015); John Barlow (20112016).
Photograph of Carry Akroyd by Leonard; Jonathan Elphick by Tim Birkhead; John Fanshawe by Greg Poole; Matt Howard by Amanda Read; Harriet Mead by V. Mead; Jeremy Mynott by Nikolay Stepkin; Mike Toms by Amy Lewis.