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Last week, the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove announced that Tony Juniper CBE is the preferred candidate for Chair of Natural England. Natural England set up under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 to conserve, enhance and manage the natural environment for present and future generations through sustainable development.

The next stage will be for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee to examine Tony Juniper’s suitability for the job. If it is decided after this scrutiny that he is suitable and meets the principles set out in the Governance Code on Public Appointments, only then will he be made Chair of Natural England.

Taking to the stage as the at the CRT’s 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London last year, Tony Juniper highlighted “the sense of urgency we need to attach to the conservation story.”

For more than 30 years, this well-known British environmentalist, has had a multitude of roles influencing projects on local national and international levels, as an advocate for a more sustainable society. He is currently the Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns for WWF-UK. He was made President of the Wildlife Trusts in 2015 following from roles such as Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and Special Advisor with the Prince’s Rainforests Project. Tony Juniper is a Fellow and part of the teaching faculty at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

With this wealth of experience as campaigner, sustainability adviser, author and teaching, Tony Juniper has the knowledge and understanding to make a real impact to the English countryside and the policies that govern.

Tony Juniper CBE talking at 25th Anniversary Celebration

In his speech, Tony Juniper described how is already involved in developing a “‘new agriculture policy’ that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union” Over many decades the Common Agricultural Policy has splits billions across Europe, according to Tony Juniper “largely to the detriment of the environment and wildlife.” He aims that the new policy will feed money back into “the recovery of wildlife.”

At the RGS, he stated that part of the problem is the “way we feed ourselves”; mixed farming with a variety of habitats have declined into mono-culture to produce food in the most financially effective way – the “yields up, everything else down.” He discusses how the mono-culture is destroying rural communities and “the destruction of the wildlife is a symptom of the destruction of the system that sustains all of us… A healthy environment is essential for agriculture.”

Tony Juniper praised the work over the last 25 years, saying that the CRT “gives a sense of inspiration that things to do not have to be like this!” He recalled when he’d recently walked around Lark Rise Farm and was like he’d “stepped back in time”. He described the thriving abundance of butterflies in the meadows, birds in hedgerows, and even otters the have returned to the Bourne Brooke! “All of this coinciding with a thriving farm that produces food. So things can be done differently, jobs, food, and wildlife all together. Surely this is the kind of example we should embrace. And actually when I walk around that farm, I remind myself that this is not a glimpse back in time, some nostalgic remnant it’s the future, it has to be the future.”

He closed his speech thanking Robin and the Countryside Restoration Trust for the providing the “inspiration and hope that comes from a good example” that is Lark Rise Farm.

Watch Tony Juniper CBE speak at the CRT 25th Anniversary Conference