Chris Baines

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Chris Baines is one of the UK’s leading independent environmentalists.  He trained as a horticulturalist at Wye College, Kent and then as a landscape architect in Birmingham.  He is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, presented what is considered to be the first environmental series for children on UK TV in the early 1980s and was one of the original presenters of BBC Countryfile.  His 2019 film documentary The Living Thames , made for the Thames Estuary Partnership, won the UK Charity Film Awards and has now won prizes at film festivals across 4 continents.  His best-selling book How to Make a Wildlife Garden has been continuously in print for almost 40 years and his book The Wild Side of Town won the first UK conservation book prize in 1987.

Chris is self-employed and acts as an adviser to industry and government.  He has worked widely with senior executives in the construction, energy, minerals, housebuilding and ethical investment industries and he currently chairs the Independent Stakeholder Advisory Group for National Grid and Ofgem.

Chris Baines is also an environmental campaigner with deep roots in the charitable sector and a long association with community-based environmental action.  He helped to establish the UK’s first urban wildlife trust, in the West Midlands, at the end of the 1970s. He was landscape adviser for the Government’s Priority Estates Project in the 1980s.  Through the 1990s he advised the Local Government Association, the Sainsbury Family Trusts, The Shell Better Britain Campaign and the New Homes Marketing Board on urban green infrastructure.  More recently he served as an adviser on sustainability for the Greenwich Millennium Dome, the London 2012 Olympics athletes’ village, and the World Heritage city of Bath.  

Chris has been a National Vice-President of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts since 1986.  He is currently an adviser to the National Trust, Hon President of the Thames Estuary Partnership, Hon Patron of the Countryside Management Association and he has been awarded lifetime-achievement medals from both the RSPB and the British Association of Nature Conservationists.  He has played a leading role in the fields of environmental education and nature recovery throughout his career.   He served as a Trustee of the National Lottery for six years and enjoys an international reputation as an environmental communicator and as a broker of cross-sectoral partnerships.  He has always worked from his home in the West Midlands. 

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Sarah Dodd, Tree Law

Sarah Dodd, the Tree Hugging Lawyer, discusses various legal aspects related to trees, including neighboring tree disputes, subsidence, and tree preservation orders. She explains the legal rights and responsibilities of tree owners and neighboring landowners, as well as the potential for civil litigation in cases of tree damage. Sarah also highlights the importance of proper investigations and alternative solutions to tree removal. She discusses the complexities of tree preservation orders and the role of local authorities in protecting trees. Overall, the conversation provides valuable insights into the legal considerations surrounding trees. The conversation explores the subjectivity of tree preservation orders (TPOs) and the challenges faced by planning authorities in enforcing them. It highlights the importance of reasonability assessments and the potential penalties for unauthorized work on protected trees. The conversation also touches on the role of biodiversity net gain in protecting trees from developers and the responsibilities of landowners under the Occupiers Liability Acts. The discussion concludes with a mention of the upcoming Tree Law Conference and the potential future legal rights of trees. 

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Julian Forbes-Laird

In this conversation, Sharon and Julian discuss the concept of biodiversity net gain and its unintended consequences, particularly in relation to the classification of veteran trees. They highlight the discrepancy between the definition of veteran trees in the National Planning Policy Framework and the definition in the Biodiversity Gain Requirements Regulations. Julian explains that the regulations' definition includes trees with common features such as significant decay, large girth, and high value for nature, which dilutes the exceptional value that should be associated with veteran trees. This creates confusion and potential conflicts in the classification and protection of trees. The conversation explores the challenges and implications of the new regulations regarding veteran trees in the UK. The speakers discuss the confusion around the identification of veteran trees and the different perspectives of arboriculturists and ecologists. They highlight the potential consequences of over-categorizing trees as veterans and the impact on land use planning and development. They also discuss the issue of root protection areas and the unintended consequences of excessive constraints. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the need for a balanced approach to tree preservation and the importance of considering future land use and biodiversity.

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Christine Figgener – My Life With Sea Turtles

Christine Figgener, a world-renowned marine biologist, discusses her passion for sea turtles and the importance of their conservation. She shares her journey to Costa Rica and her first impressions of the research station. Christine explains that there are seven extant species of sea turtles, each with unique characteristics and diets. She emphasizes the role of sea turtles in maintaining the underwater ecology, such as the green turtle's grazing on seagrass and the hawksbill turtle's role in controlling sponge populations on coral reefs. Christine also touches on the declining numbers of sea turtles and the potential impact on the underwater ecosystem. Sea turtles play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our oceans. They are considered keystone species that help regulate the ecosystem. The green turtles keep seagrass matters in check, while hawksbill turtles control sponge growth on coral reefs. Sea turtles also contribute to the provision of food by feeding on jellyfish, which helps maintain the balance of larval fish populations. However, sea turtles face numerous threats, including climate change, habitat destruction, and illegal harvesting. The mating and nesting behaviors of sea turtles are still not fully understood, but efforts are being made to study and protect these processes. Volunteerism in sea turtle conservation can be both positive and negative, with some organizations exploiting volunteers for profit. The viral video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose brought global attention to the issue of plastic pollution and the need for change. Despite the challenges, there is hope for the future of sea turtles, as they have shown resilience and the ability to recover if we make positive changes to protect their habitats and reduce threats.

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Nadina Galle – The Nature of Our Cities

The conversation covers various topics related to urban ecology and the importance of nature in cities. It touches on personal experiences, the role of technology in enhancing urban greenery, and the challenges faced by urban foresters. The guests discuss the need for better data collection and mapping of trees, as well as the importance of community engagement and policy changes to protect and enhance urban nature. In this conversation, Nadina Galle discusses the importance of preserving trees on private land and the challenges of implementing tree ordinances. She also highlights the efforts of Matt Wells in Santa Monica to increase canopy cover and advocate for a private tree ordinance. The conversation then shifts to the role of technology in urban forestry, including the use of high-resolution satellite imagery to map trees on private land and the development of the Burnbot firefighting robot. The discussion also touches on the impact of climate change, the importance of nature in cities, and the use of technology to engage people with urban nature through apps and immersive experiences. The conversation concludes with a reflection on the potential benefits of a daily dose of nature and the importance of reconnecting with the natural world. It’s your last week to pre-order and join THE NATURE OF OUR CITIES summer book club. You'll find all the details here: 

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