I was born early in the Anthropocene, the newly-proposed geological era that will be marked on Earth for all future time by a layer of rock rich in plastics, chicken bones and radionuclides, and the simultaneous extinction of millions of species and lineages from the fossil record. As an ecologist and writer, my job is to raise awareness of the subtle but potent and dangerous changes that are underway in our relations with the living world and with each other, and to make available the best possible information on how to make them less severe.
In practice, this means I focus on moderating the damage being done to ecosystems, the ecological services they provide, and the wildlife populations they contain, at all scales from the very local to the landscape, the continental, and the global level. But mostly I work at the landscape scale of up to a few thousand square kilometres, and mostly in the equatorial tropics – in the hills and mountains and along the coasts. I have earned a living (so far) by advising charities, companies and especially aid agencies on what they can do to keep human development going while preserving the necessary fabric of our amazingly beautiful and intricate biosphere. A summary of my professional work is available here, and since 2009 most of it has been done though my own company Creatura Ltd, which is described here.
I see ecology, knowledge and governance as the three great interconnected themes in how people relate to the world and live together, and values as a key cross-cutting theme. So I’m particularly interested in what people see as the most important things in the world. This is explored in my other website, where I post commentaries on what people believe to be most important, and also my analyses of events and issues that arise. As well as the Most Important Things themselves, the major categories on the site include climate change, adaptation, Brexit, the Extinction Rebellion, and Peace with Nature.
Every few years, after I’ve done enough projects and learned enough new things, I take time out to write a book. My aim is mainly to get the knowledge out into the public domain, where it might be of more use to people than it is in technical reports held on file with ministries and other institutions. I try to make everything I write accessible and interesting to any reader, and I’m quite good at that, but some of it is undeniably of specialist interest to ecologists and aid professionals even though I try to add comprehensive glossaries and clear explanations.
In any case, my books are accessible through the following links: on rainforest monkeys, on hunting in Sarawak, on designing conservation projects, on good governance for the environment, on ecology of the oceans, on conserving the great apes, on the ecology of the global water crisis, and on aid performance and climate change. I’ve also done some seriously technical books on evaluations of major aid programmes funded by Finland (see here for sustainability, here for Nepal, here for Nicaragua, and here for Tanzania) and Switzerland (see here for the climate change technical report, and here for the climate change public report). And because people often like to listen rather than just read, I also do public speaking.