Nature is in crisis. The Amazon is burning. Global temperatures continue to rise. The UK is now one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with 56% of species in long-term decline. In the midst of the Anthropocene, humans are now drivers of environmental change on a scale unique in Earth’s history. We are to blame for the global ecological and climate crisis.
It is very easy to lose hope. To admit defeat. But there is still time to turn things around.
In the last 12 months a grassroots campaign led by sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg has gone global. On 20th September a day of action will see workers all round the world show solidarity with Greta and other school strikers by protesting for the climate. Action is planned in 115 countries and 1000 cities. What started in August 2018 as a solitary demonstration outside the Swedish parliament has grown into a global movement thanks to Greta’s unwavering determination to hold world leaders to account. She has shown leadership that puts that world’s politicians to shame.
And it isn’t just the actions of Greta Thunberg and other young people around the world that gives cause for hope. Each day when I look out of my office window, I see Red Kites whirling around overhead. As a teenage birdwatcher I had to travel to mid-Wales to stand even a chance of catching a glimpse of these majestic birds. Now barely a day goes by without one circling over my back garden. Then last week one of the six White-tailed Eagles that we released on the Isle of Wight made an incredible 680 km flight across London and the south-east. At one point it flew directly over the House of Parliament: the first eagle to be seen in central London for several centuries. For me it signified that there is hope. As humans we have an alarming ability to destroy, but we also have a unique opportunity to make positive change.
That change is needed now, more than ever.
Ten years ago I was fortunate to meet Barry Dore on a leadership programme organised by the Wildlife Trusts, who I was working for at the time. I have to admit that I was filled with a certain degree of cynicism when I walked into the room with five colleagues from other Wildlife Trusts for our first session. How could learning about leadership really help me in my day-to-day work? Surely it was just all a load of mumbo jumbo? Well, I can honestly say now that meeting Barry is one of the most important things that has happened to me in my life. The material Barry presented made so much sense and sharing experiences with like-minded colleagues was incredibly helpful. But more than that, Barry gave me confidence in my own ability to make change. Suddenly I realised I didn’t have to accept the status quo. That I, as conservationist who wanted to make a difference, really could.
And that is what the Osprey Leadership Academy is all about. Over the next twelve weeks of Becoming a Conservation Leader we want to show that whatever stage you’re at in your career, you can make a difference. We want to challenge you to think differently about how you approach your day-to-day work, and how your actions can influence others. If we really want to do something about the global ecological and climate crisis, then sitting on the side lines waiting for other people to do something, really isn’t going to cut the mustard. We have to all take responsibility to push for change whether that be in your local community, nature reserve, or elsewhere. We are all conservation leaders in our own right and over the next twelve weeks we will help you explore the concept of leadership and how it can help you in your own conservation journey and to make the change nature so desperately needs.