Steering Group

New Networks for Nature is run by a steering group consisting the following:

Amy-Jane Beer 1 credit Lyndon Smith.jpg

Amy-Jane Beer is a biologist, writer and editor based in North Yorkshire. She earned a PhD studying the nervous systems of sea urchins before realising that her vocation lay in communicating science rather than doing it - something she has now done for 20 years. She was editor of Wildlife of Britain and Animals Animals Animals magazines, and currently edits Wildlife World magazine for the People's Trust for Endangered species. She has written numerous reference books on science and nature for all ages and edits scientific manuscripts for researchers for whom English is a second or third language. She is a regular contributor to BBC Wildlife magazine and a Country Diarist for the Guardian. In 2018 ran a campaign to supply Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris's powerful nature book, The Lost Words to every primary school in North and East Yorkshire. She is a judge on the BTO Bird Photographer of the Year competition and is writing her first novel, Heartwood. She is co-organiser of the 2019 Nature Matters symposium.


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) and The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg (2016) were both short-listed for the Royal Society Popular Science Prize. His most recent book is The Wonderful Mr Willughby; the First True Ornithologist (2018).


Mary Colwell is a writer and producer of TV, radio and internet programmes, specialising in the areas of natural history and the environment. She was awarded the BTO Dilys Breese Award for Outstanding Communication in Science. She has made major Radio 4 series such as Natural Histories, Saving Species and Shared Planet. For TV she produced British Isles – A Natural HistoryBill Oddie Goes WildWildlife On One and Natural World. In 2009 she won a Radio Academy Sony Gold for a podcast about a prisoner caring for a budgerigar. Her first book, John Muir – The Man Who Saved America’s Wild Places, was published in 2014. Her second book, Curlew Moon, about her 500 mile walk to raise awareness about the decline of curlews in Britain and Ireland, was published in April 2018 by William Collins.


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.


Ben Hoare is Features Editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine, which luckily also happens to be his dream job. He joined the prestigious Bristol-based magazine in 2008, after 12 years as a freelance natural-history book editor and author, and stints volunteering for the RSPB and BirdLife International. One of his books, Animal Migration: Remarkable Journeys in the Wild, was published by the Natural History Museum in 2009. He is a well-travelled birder and has finally achieved his ambition to see the world's smallest bird, the delightful bee hummingbird. In 2015, he was awarded the British Trust for Ornithology's Dilys Breese Medal. One day, he will write an award-winning book about nature, but until then he is happy editing other people’s words.


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 WildlifePoetry 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.


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.


Michael J. Warren is an academic and writer. He is currently Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway University where he teaches medieval literature. His first book, Birds in Medieval English Poetry: Metaphors, Realities, Transformations, will be published later this year. Michael specializes in ecocriticism and animal studies, and is co-director of Medieval Ecocriticisms, an international group which promotes and shares knowledge about all things nonhuman in medieval or early cultures. His essays have been published in Studies in the Age of Chaucer and English Studies, and his nature writing has appeared in EarthLines and The Curlew. Michael is working at present on a non-academic book about birds, place and identity in pre-modern Britain.

Past Steering Group Members

Mark Cocker (2009–2013); Paul Jepson (2009–2012); Rob Lambert (2011–2014); Stephen Moss (2011–2015); John Barlow (2011–2016); Rosamond Richardson (2016–2017) Derek Niemann (2015-2018) Gill Tew (2015-2017); Carry Ackroyd (2010-2017); Jonathan Elphick (2013-2017); Kate Risley (2014-2017), Jeremy Mynott (2009-2018), Mike Toms (2009-2019)

Image credits

Photograph of Carry Akroyd by Leonard; John Fanshawe by Greg Poole; Matt Howard by Amanda Read; Harriet Mead by V. Mead; Jeremy Mynott by Diane Speakman; Mike Toms by Amy Lewis.