Great new Elizabethan naturalists – thoughts from Mark Avery

This was a fun poll – well, I enjoyed it anyway.

I’m not surprised that Sir David Attenborough won – he is an impressive man who has motivated and inspired so many to care for the natural world.  He cannot but be a worthy winner.

But he didn’t get my vote – that went to Peter Scott.  For me, Peter Scott combined the best attributes of a ‘thinker’, a ‘doer’, a communicator and an inspirational leader.  It was he who set up the excellent WWT and was a founder member of WWF too.  Outside of nature conservation Peter Scott was an Olympian, a champion glider pilot and received a DSC for bravery.  He communicated his knowledge of , and love, for nature through his paintings, books and TV and radio broadcasts.  That’s why he got my vote.

But how could anyone begrudge Sir David his emphatic victory in this little poll?  He is a hero to so many of us too.  I remember, in my RSPB days, my PA putting an unexpected phone call through to me with a rather breathless ‘It’s David Attenborough for you!’.  I didn’t have any time to wonder what this was all about before the familiar voice was explaining that he wanted some advice about wind turbines because Glyndbourne were planning to have one. I was star-struck and I probably sounded it!

Thank you to all of you for your votes in this poll and for the stimulating comments –  including the people you thought we had missed off the list. I wonder whether we ought to have included HRH The Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper, Dick Potts, David Bellamy and others – maybe next time?

Another poll will be along in a while.

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10 Replies to “Great new Elizabethan naturalists – thoughts from Mark Avery”

  1. So I wonder whether it was because of your advice or in spite of it that Glyndebourne got its wind turbine?
    It's hard to argue against Sir David as a winner but I suspect that the result also says much about the power of television.

  2. Mark. It would be nice if you returned the phonecall and asked DA himself who he would have voted for. You could also get an update on what he thinks about the Glyndbourne wind turbine!

    1. Yes.... I saw it two weeks' ago on my way along the Downs travelling west to east. A pity, I consider, personally.
      It's not a secret that I appeared as an expert witness at the Public Inquiry in opposition to it. My own view was that David Attenborough was inconsistent in his approach: a strong supporter of the principle of protected landscapes and yet asking for the AONB/National Park policy to be abrogated. Just for the record, I declined to oppose some wind farms, and did oppose others, during my time at CPRE and afterwards. I even tried to support one. I do a very different job nowadays, so I am unlikely to encounter this issue professionally at Inquiry.

  3. My vote went to Sir Peter Scott too (us Old Oundelians have to stick together) and I think you'd find that Sir David would have voted for him as well. Peter Scott was certainly a highly-influential mentor for the young David Attenborough.

    Sir David is a worthy winner. No one has touched him since for the way in which he brings the natural world into our living rooms and with such gifted aplomb.

  4. Well so pleased to know we voted the same Mark but I was surprised but also delighted,had you down as voting for one of the others,but they were all very deserving conservationists,guess all had black marks in their careers at some point which is inevitable and we need to ignore those and concentrate on all the good each and everyone of them did plus of course many more did great work as well.

  5. Had a e-mail from NE saying they had 20 days to reply about my freedom of information request,that took a bit of time.

  6. I want to thank Mark very much indeed for creating the poll and hosting it on his blog. It has been a great success because of the quality of the participation in it and the good number of votes cast. So thank you, too, to everyone who took part.

    Various people have asked me whose nephew I am. I didn't want to disclose this during the poll for obvious reasons and I hope very much that my comments have not given undue weight to this or any other candidate. Mark suggested this person, unprompted by me, amongst other candidates, which made their inclusion straightforward.

    Norman Moore is my uncle. I am a lucky man.

  7. I agree with you, Mark, about Peter Scott. A great conservationist, but also a wildfowler in the old tradition. Sure, he gave it up - most hunter/gatherers do when they grow older, because the young fill their shoes. But I think it unfair not to recognise that it was hunting that kick-started his amazing work. Too many have selective memories in this quarter. Ethical hunters are also conservationists. Worth recording, I think.

    1. Nick - welcome and thank you. I have no problem with Peter Scott's wildfowling past. However, if you read his excellent autobiography then his move away from wildfowling was quite clearly made on moral grounds. I completely agree that ethical hunters are often conservationists. Thank you again for your comment.


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