The Wildlife Trusts welcome Liz Bonnin as new president

Gillian Burke announced as vice president, and Mya-Rose Craig, David Oakes, Cel Spellman and Dave Goulson become wildlife ambassadors
Liz Bonnin

Liz Bonnin (c) Andrew Crowley

Broadcaster and biologist, Liz Bonnin was elected as president of The Wildlife Trusts today. The first woman to take the role, Liz joins the movement of 46 Wildlife Trusts at a critical time for nature’s recovery in the UK. Liz will be championing The Wildlife Trusts’ new 30 by 30 vision to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030 with projects ranging from land acquisition to peatland restoration and species reintroduction.  

Liz is known for her powerful and ground-breaking documentaries including the sensational Drowning in Plastic, Galapagos, Wild Alaska and Blue Planet Live. Liz’s career has taken her around the world, studying animal behaviours and shining a spotlight on important environmental issues.

President of The Wildlife Trusts, Liz Bonnin says:
“It’s a very exciting time to be joining The Wildlife Trusts, and I am incredibly honoured to have been invited to take on this role, following in the footsteps of highly esteemed past presidents who I have looked up to throughout my career. I have long admired The Wildlife Trusts’ work and I am looking forward to championing their expertise and vision to restore nature in the UK. It is a critical time for the natural world, and I hope that through lending my voice and support, and by working together, we can help to enforce the changes that must take place in order to secure a brighter future for our wild places.  

“I have been extremely fortunate to work on projects that have explored our planet's wildlife wonders and the many conservation challenges they face – from Nepal and the Galapagos, to the Arctic Circle. Now I want to apply what I have learned to help nature closer to home. The Wildlife Trusts inspire local action to create a national impact, all with a global perspective – I am keen to be a part of that, and passionate about finding novel ways to make a difference, where it matters most.”

The Wildlife Trusts are delighted to announce that BBC’s Springwatch presenter and life-long nature fan Gillian Burke has become vice president – and welcome young birder Mya-Rose Craig, actor David Oakes, broadcaster Cel Spellman, and insect expert Dave Goulson, as wildlife ambassadors.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts says:
“I’m thrilled to welcome Liz Bonnin as the new president of The Wildlife Trusts. It’s a critical time for our natural world and we face a huge challenge in tackling the ecological and climate crises – so it’s vital that we have the best people working alongside us. Liz is keen to fight our corner and she leads an invigorated team of honorary roles – all passionate people who will help make nature matter to wider, more diverse audiences. Thank you to Liz, Gillian, David, Mya-Rose, Cel and Dave for joining us to stand up for the natural world!”

About The Wildlife Trusts’ new president, vice president and ambassadors

Liz Bonnin, president
n addition to Liz’s ground-breaking documentaries, she co-presented the BBC factual series Bang Goes the Theory and ITV’s Countrywise. Her new podcast What Planet Are We On? explores the impact we are having on the planet with special guests, including Sir David Attenborough, Idris Elba and Alannah Weston. Liz will be spearheading The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 by 30 campaign to raise £30million to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.

Gillian Burke

Gillian Burke

Gillian Burke, vice president
Biologist, Gillian Burke, is known to many as co-host on BBC’s Spring, Autumn and WinterWatch. Her engaging style, passion for science and love of the natural world have made her a firm favourite on the show.

Gillian says: “I’m extremely honoured to take up the role of vice president for The Wildlife Trusts.  I believe nature is a powerful healer and I am a huge supporter of nature-based solutions in facing the twin challenges of the climate and ecological emergencies.  I’m looking forward to playing my part in creating positive change for people and wildlife.”

Mya-Rose Craig

Mya-Rose Craig (c) Helena Craig

Mya-Rose Craig, ambassador
Environmentalist and birder, 18 year-old Mya-Rose first started writing articles for The Wildlife Trusts when she was just 13. Since then, she has written many thought-provoking pieces about nature and diversity in the conservation and environmental sector. Mya-Rose founded Black2Nature to encourage more children and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds to engage with the natural world and conservation. She was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Bristol in 2020.

Mya-Rose says: “The Wildlife Trusts have had a really positive influence on me as I've grown up. They have nurtured my love of all things wild and have encouraged me throughout. As an environmentalist and climate campaigner it’s rare for a charity to encompass all the areas that I love, but I think The Wildlife Trusts do exactly this. I’m really proud to have been asked to become an Ambassador and I can’t wait for us to make some real progress on the ecological and climate crises together.”  

Cel Spellman

Cel Spellman

Cel Spellman, ambassador
The breadth of Cel’s talents is astounding. He has presented on BBC, BBC Radio 1, CBBC and starred in White Lines, World on Fire and Cold Feet – he’s a tour de force! He’s an ardent advocate for nature, wildlife and the need to address the climate crisis. 
 
Cel says: “I was over the moon when I was asked to be an ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts. It’s an absolute honour and privilege to work with the Trusts and such dedicated people to make a difference to the world that we live in, with a particular focus on all our beautiful, precious wild spaces and wildlife here in the UK. I believe that the strength of the Trusts is how attuned they are to what’s happening in our communities, what is needed to change things for the better, and how effective they are in conveying that to decision makers.”   

David Oakes

David Oakes (c) Martin Behrman

David Oakes, ambassador
Actor and podcaster, David Oakes, has graced our screens in fantastic period dramas from Victoria to The Borgias. When he’s not on set or treading the boards he’s out walking in a glorious wild place talking to experts about the natural world and celebrating it in his podcast, Trees A Crowd. David has been a dedicated supporter of The Wildlife Trusts interviewing stalwarts of the movement for the podcast and hosting our 30 Days Wild Quiz from his back garden. 

David says: “I have had the great pleasure of speaking at length to some of the most knowledgeable naturalists, biologists, entomologists and inspirational figures from the environmental sector, and been struck by how they all have a special place in their hearts for The Wildlife Trusts. This chimes with my own experience of this fantastic collection of dedicated individuals. I’m humbled to have been asked to be an Ambassador, and am really looking forward to raising awareness of the extraordinary work that the Trusts do to restore the natural world at a time when we need nature more than ever."

Dave Goulson

Dave Goulson

Dave Goulson, ambassador
Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, Dave Goulson is the UK’s leading expert on insects with a focus on bumblebees. He worked on our Action for Insects campaign and is an accomplished author, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2013, and acclaimed for The Garden Jungle and A Sting in the Tale. In 2006, Dave founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to engage the public in taking action to save the species. 

Dave says: “There’s no ignoring the science. I think this is the unofficial motto of The Wildlife Trusts, a charity after my own heart, which does so much to raise the profile of the smallest creatures on Planet Earth and the impact that their declines have on the web of life. It was an absolute joy to support their Action for Insects campaign and to share my lifelong passion. I’m delighted to become an Ambassador and support their vital work.”

All roles were confirmed at The Wildlife Trusts’ Annual General Meeting today. For a full list of The Wildlife Trusts’ honorary officers please see wildlifetrusts.org/about-us/how-we-are-run. Liz Bonnin succeeds Tony Juniper CBE, as president of The Wildlife Trusts; Tony stepped down from the role in April 2019 when he became chairman of Natural England.

Earlier this year The Wildlife Trusts welcomed the following Ambassadors: actor Alison Steadman, TV GP Dr Amir Khan, presenter filmmaker and conservationist Hannah Stitfall, adventurer Sophie Pavelle and Iceland’s CEO Richard Walker. Further details here.

Recently The Wildlife Trusts launched 30 by 30, a public appeal to raise £30 million to start putting nature into recovery across at least 30% of land and sea by 2030. Further details here.