Nature Matters 2023

Nature Matters 2023

Friday 15th September 2023
Dear All

It is with great sadness that we have to tell you that the New Networks for Nature event planned for Norwich this November has been cancelled.

Advance ticket sales were simply insufficient to cover our costs and the numbers were insufficient to create the atmosphere for a viable meeting. The venue required a clear commitment, so cancellation has avoided our incurring a not insubstantial cost. For those of you that bought tickets for this year, a full refund will be made with immediate effect through Eventbrite. Any ticket purchasers who have incurred other expenses for the event such as travel and accommodation should contact us ( to discuss reimbursement for these too.

New Networks was launched back in 2009, but since then the environment for events of this kind has changed in several ways. The long-term consequences of the financial crash in 2008 and the more recent cost of living crisis have been important factors. Covid altered many people’s attitudes towards meetings, with many preferring on-line events over face-to-face networking, which is what New Networks was all about. In addition, possibly inspired by what we had initiated, numerous other groups with a similar model have sprung up providing people with alternative events.

As well as cancelling this year’s New Network event, the difficulties we have had over the last few years, such as the cancellation of the 2022 York meeting because of rail strikes, and the changes outlined above, the Trustees feel that New Networks for Nature has run its course, certainly in the form in which has operated so far.

This is hugely regrettable, not least because the threats to nature, both political and climatological, are greater than ever, but also because of the enormous effort the Steering Group has put into creating and maintaining New Networks. Our disappointment notwithstanding, New Networks has been a tremendous success. Our goal of initiating connections, collaborations and networks between those in the arts and sciences has been amply fulfilled. We have also probably helped to launch more than a few careers. Perhaps above all, over its fourteen-year life span New Networks has generated some enduring friendships through a common concern for the future of our natural world.

We would like to thank all of you that attended New Networks events, that took part in, or helped with those events or supported us in other ways. A huge, heartful ‘thank you’ to everyone for what—both for the Steering Group and the Trustees—has been an exhilarating and enormously rewarding journey.

With best wishes

Tim Birkhead (Chair of the Trustees)
Michael Warren (Chair of the New Networks Steering Group)

Norfolk: Life, Landscape, Legacy

16th - 18th November, Norfolk: Life, Landscape, Legacy,

at The Halls, Norwich

'New Networks for Nature is an inspiring, astonishing phenomenon' - Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

New Networks for Nature’s meeting - Nature Matters - is an annual three-day creative celebration of nature in words, music, film, art and debate. Our delegates are treated to an inspiring programme of talks, readings, performances and discussions from leading voices and emerging talents, all of whom share tireless dedication to the natural world.

This year we're thrilled to be in Norwich, bringing New Networks to the east of England at last (something we attempted to do in 2020 until Covid scuppered us), and continuing our ambition to take the event around the country and reach new audiences. The venue is The Halls, an old medieval priory right in the city centre.

Our theme for 2023 is Norfolk: Life, Landscape, Legacy. This year, after very sadly being forced to cancel our event in York last year because of rail strikes, we are more keen than ever to get the show back on the road. This is the most local we've been yet (Livin' La Vida Local!), with an exciting group of Norfolk-based and Norfolk-born contributors and speakers lined up to show us all how rich and diverse the wildlife, conservation, landscape, heritage, crafts and traditions are in this wonderful part of the country. It's not all about Norfolk--we've got lots more besides--but at heart this year we're all about promoting, celebrating and connecting to Norfolk's local wonders.

To keep up to date with New Networks for Nature then sign up to the mailing list.


Click here to download the programme, and read below for a taste of what we'll be doing...

On Thursday 16th ...

(pre-conference event) A walk and wildlife-watching trip to Norfolk Wildlife Trust's reserve, Sweetbriar Marshes. Close to the centre of Norwich, this new reserve, not even open to the public yet, comprises 90 acres of fen, rough meadow, grazing marsh, old hedgerows and young woodland, full of incredible wildlife. This uniquely wild place and its sensitive ecology – including a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – was in danger of being lost forever. NWT launched a public appeal to save it and, thanks to enormous support from funders and the local community, were able to take it under ownership. Nick Acheson, Norfolk nature writer and New Networks steering group member, is familiar as a NWT ambassador, and this is a special opportunity to visit the reserve with him, benefitting from his expert knowledge about the place and its wildlife. Discover more here. Please see ticket details for timings. New Networks are running a coach service to and from The Halls for this trip.

In the evening, we are very excited to have much-loved Norwich folk group The Shackleton Trio playing a special gig for us. The Trio couldn't be more perfect for New Networks values and mission, and this year's theme: a local band writing and playing songs about East Anglian people, traditions and wildlife. Seven years performing together has seen the band played on BBC Radio 2, Radio 3 and Radio 4, with gleaming five-star reviews, an appearance on Cambridge Folk Festival’s prestigious main stage, a host of UK and European festivals, and international tours. Join us to be thrilled and captivated by their beautiful, fiery, and haunting tunes that combine mandolin, fiddle, guitar and banjo with powerful three part harmonies. The unmistakeable sound of The Shackleton Trio brings to life the stories of their native, landscape and heritage. Find out about their music and hear them here:  

On Friday 17th ...

Over the following two days we have our usual variety of stimulating and thought-provoking sessions. On Friday we've got UEA academic Tom Williamson and museum curator David Waterhouse on Norfolk's historical landscapes. Pensthorpe, Norfolk Rivers Trust and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are with us to discuss the hot topic of reintroductions; writer and Feather Speech campaigner Hannah Bourne-Tayor, George Candelin (Oxford Keeper of the Swifts) and artist Jonathan Pomroy celebrate swifts; and poetry and debate on water and climate danger are on the cards with renowned poets Ruth Padel, Matt Howard, Sean Borodale, and Guardian writer Sara Hudston. We've also got more music with another local band playing--The Neutrinos.

On Saturday 18th ...

Television presenter and author Jess French will be with us to explore how we engage children with the difficult issues and realities of the climate crisis; veteran conservationists Kane Brides and Andy Bloomfield will join Nick Acheson to celebrate Norfolk's famous winter geese; and in discussion on protest, land use and community action are Norfolk locals Helen Baczkowska and Iokine Rodriguez Fernandez. We've also got master thatcher Nick Walker and sculptor Tim Willey on local Norfolk craft traditions.

In addition, on both days we've got authors providing us with readings from their books, including Conor Mark Jameson (on W. H. Hudson). Their books will be available on our well-stocked book stall, this year provided by Norfolk-based Wild Sounds.

The full programme for the event is available here.

Tickets are now on sale - Click the button below. Please note, this year we are livestreaming most of the event, and tickets for remote participation are available.

2023 Contributors

As presenters are finalised we'll add to this grid- please keep calling back to learn more about our 2023 line-up!

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