City of perspiring dreams

I spent yesterday back in Cambridge – I say ‘back’ because this was where I was an undergraduate and I spent many of my relatively youthful years in Cambridge and it has been a great influence on my life.

I was attending the annual symposium (sounds grand for something that was so much fun) of the Cambridge Conservation Forum in the Judge Business School which used to be the old Addenbrookes’ hospital when I was an undergraduate over the road at Downing.  There were lots of really enthusiastic young people there and quite a few enthusiastic not-so-young people too.  They got me to do the OFATE bit – you know what OFATE stands for , don’t you?

The day was a mixture of interactive sessions, plenty of time for chatting to people, sitting down for some excellent talks and some group discussions.

The ‘A’ in OFATE stands for ‘at’.

Melissa Jaques ran through the upcoming sustainable development meeting in Rio this summer, which reminded me of the great impact that its predecessor had on UK biodiversity conservation 20 years ago. Let’s hope it’s as ground-breaking this time around.

Mark Infield talked about cultural values in saving biodiversity, mostly from a developing world perspective, and it made me wonder whether we have lost or are losing our cultural link with wildlife in this country?

Rob Harris talked about the Rapid response Facility (of which I had never heard) and its work in Belize (of which i knew very little) which has just lept up my list of ‘I’d really like to go there’ places.

Debbie Pain told us about the spoon-billed sandpiper story in the most perfectly illustrated and clearly told presentation that you could imagine.

Julia Mackenzie talked about the differences in success of urban and rural great tits and blue tits.

Rebecca Willers talked about tiger conservation in Sumatra and  and made me think about the value of tigers – economic as dead skins and ground up bones or walking free in the forests?

Amanda Vincent said that in the Philippines, and generally, men and woman do different types of fishing with the women gleaning invertebrates and the men doing the flashy technological stuff with boats and fish, and that marine conservation zones seemed to be chosen to have more impact on women’s fishing than men’s (and the men seemed to have more say in where they went!).

Dominic Lewis from CUP told an interesting story of energy reduction in his firm – a good example of economic gain and environmental gain going hand in hand.

Aidan Lonergan from the RSPB talked of landscape scale conservation very convincingly.

Angela Moffat of Natural England described the dire state of marine conservation zones around England although she didn’t use the word dire but I did!

and Chris Sandbrook described how nature conservation games might encourage people to think about real nature.  I wonder whether we should set the political party leaders the task of having a go at ‘Fate of the World’ and their results be publicly published before the next general election?

The ‘E’ in OFATE stands for ‘end’.

And I chatted to Andy Clements and Rob Fuller from the BTO, Mike Rands from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, Rosie Trevelyan from TBA, Tony Juniper, a man with a dog-collar, Bill Sutherland, Bill Adams, Pamela Abbott, Roger Mitchell, John Hutton and many others.

The ‘O’ in OFATE stands for ‘old’.

So, you can probably see that it was a good day – and in many ways an inspiring day.

In ‘summing up’ the ‘unsummuppable’ I suggested five New Year’s resolutions for the departing people (who actually only departed as far as the wine for another chat):

1.  Go out and enjoy nature this year

2. Use your heads – we need facts, information, knowledge and well-presented arguments to save wildlife

3. Use your hearts and get into other peoples’ too – you can’t win all the arguments with facts you have to get people emotionally connected too.

4.  Buy my book Blogging for Nature – hang on! how did that slip in there?

5. Be dissatisfied– the world isn’t good enough and we need to change it

6.  Know your friends and your enemies – nature conservation needs better collaboration and partnership but not everyone is on the same side so we’d be mad to treat them as though they were!


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5 Replies to “City of perspiring dreams”

  1. The symposium sounds really good. I did not know about it but I was doing something on the radio anyway so could not attend. The June one looks good too. Especially the section on management plans and maybe getting some consistency about them.

    Sounds like a good event for networking and just chewing over things.

    I guessed OFATE was old fart at the end but then thought fellow sounded better and a bit more academic given the venue.........!

    New year resolutions sound good and very sensible.

  2. From one OF to another! Glad you enjoyed the event - was good to see there, as always. Enjoying your book!

    1. Roger - thank you. It was a well-run and interesting conference. I'm enjoying your Scottish £10 note!


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