I’m what you might call an ‘all-round’ ecological/environmental specialist with a particular interest in creating more liveable urban spaces that improve mental & physical wellbeing within the community. I’m passionate about real sustainability within the built environment – in particular those overlooked, neglected and forgotten places that have so much potential to enrich the quality of people’s lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed 30+ years in both environmental protection and ecological consultancy, engaged on a myriad of projects and assignments in that time with organisations such as the Environment Agency and commercial consultancies. My experience spans a wide range of disciplines including environmental management; ecological consultancy; landscape design; habitat creation and mitigation; horticulture; aquatic resource management; urban regeneration and sustainable green infrastructure. Getting involved with Renew is an opportunity to share this knowledge and empower communities to develop a shared vision with a clear and attainable route map for achieving their goals. I am the founder of a specialist ecological practice (ReNature) specialising in nature-based solutions for urban environments. The ethos is to create healthier, more ecologically resilient spaces that benefit both people and wildlife whilst aiming to mitigate the effects of climate change within communities. In my other current role as Environmental Project officer for Maindee Unlimited, I work closely with the residents and stakeholders to regenerate public green spaces, create community gardens, and represent the community to engage and consult with authorities to bring about positive change.
Why are you drawn to this area of work?
Since my time at university studying natural sciences twenty years ago, I have been passionate about environmental issues and a keen advocate for climate change action and climate justice. I firmly believe that small-scale action at local level can have a profoundly positive affect on addressing the environmental challenges we face, helping also to shift perspectives and attitudes. In my previous roles as Managing Partner of Thamesis (an ecological consultancy specialising in restoring and enhancing freshwater environments across the UK) I became acutely aware of the widespread damage that is being inflicted (pollution, mis-management and habitat destruction) but also astonished at the speed and power of nature’s recovery. Consequently, I strongly believe we have the tools at our disposal to reimagine our neighbourhoods as healthier, greener and more inspiring places. A lot of my previous project work has a strong practical focus centred around improving the physical spaces where people live, work and play. These include; creating nature rich areas in neglected urban areas; working with inner city schools to design and create wildlife friendly gardens; install living walls, green roofs and rain gardens for clients in urban environments to alleviate the risks of flooding; working in conjunction with community residents to reclaim and improve the quality of green space to play, grow food, enjoy nature, and bring people together.
What is your vision of your region in 2050? What will have changed and how will we have got there?
2050 is a milestone that is significant as it is often touted as the point at which we need to have made significant steps to avert the global crises of climate change, ecological collapse and water scarcity. My vision is an optimistic one; I see a future regional economy that has shaken off its addiction to fossil fuels, for example by running integrated public transport infrastructure. I believe our region can take the initiative in preventing waste, conserving resources and transitioning to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. For our towns and cities to thrive, we must ensure that sustainability is at the very core of civic life and the built environment to be underpinned by smart green-infrastructure systems. Our value of nature is part of our every-day life and getting people closer to their natural surroundings will, I believe, encourage pro-environmental behaviours within communities.