How did you become interested in wildlife?
My dad was a Londoner who contracted ‘TB hip’. After years in hospital, he ended up in Rutland during the war at a school for those with disabilities. He was inspired by the beauty of the surrounding countryside which he never would have known without his early misfortunes. In the mid-60s, he took me and my brothers walking in north-west Kent near our home in Dartford, and on the Downs around Eastbourne where we holidayed every year. A love of nature was embedded in my heart from that time onwards.
My concern for the natural world stemmed from my childhood experiences, waned during adolescence and re-emerged in adulthood. Finding Jesus Christ has been an ongoing process that was first kindled sometime in my 30s. For some time I looked for biblical confirmation for my early passion for nature, and just a few years back I found it. Never mind nature having to earn its keep through ‘ecosystem services’! For me, Psalm 104:24 has the last word – ‘O Lord, how many are your works! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures’. I constantly ponder this majestic text that dares us to question God’s creative purposes.
What would you see as the top conservation priority for Foxearth Meadows?
I am drawn to the advice of historical ecologist Oliver Rackham that, when formulating how to manage a site for nature conservation, we should consider ‘what makes a place special and how it differs from other places’…(Read the full interview with Mark here)