High-flying conservationists win top national awards

13 Oct 2022 | No. 2022-40

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) celebrated the outstanding work of conservation scientists and volunteers in an annual awards ceremony held last night at the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) Natural Eye exhibition at London’s Mall Galleries.

The BTO Jubilee Medal went to Simon Taylor, BTO Regional Rep for Cornwall. Since taking on the volunteer role in 2017, Simon has helped to reverse Cornwall’s declining survey coverage and create a wide range of opportunities for engaging new volunteers, partly by recruiting an equally dedicated team that includes a number of Youth Reps. Although he has been in post for only a relatively short period of time, his work in Cornwall has been truly transformative.

The BTO Dilys Breese Medal was given to Kit Jewitt¸ whose work on two landmark BTO books has helped to raise the profile of Britain’s most threatened birds. He devised Red 67, the 2017 book that brought together writers and artists to contribute personal reflections on the 67 species of bird that then made up the UK Red List, raising more than £40,000 in the process. The sequel, Into the Red, was published earlier this month.

The Marsh Award for Ornithology went to Dr Alex Bond¸ curator in charge of birds at the Natural History Museum, Tring. Alex’s work has focused on the threats posed by plastic and other types of pollution to seabird populations, particularly those on remote islands. As well as publishing widely on seabird conservation, he has also been a powerful advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion in ornithology and science more broadly. 

The Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology was given to Rob Clements in recognition of his three decades as a volunteer monitoring some of Britain’s most elusive birds. He has frequently challenged accepted population estimates for hard-to-record species including Honey Buzzard, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and Hawfinch, and, through detailed fieldwork, helped to improve them, developing a vital network of species experts along the way.

The Marsh Award for Local Ornithology went to Tracking the Impact, a scheme founded in 2020 to engage people living in the Chilterns with their local environment. It provides training on bird, butterfly and plant identification – as well as survey methodology – to members of the public, harnessing their knowledge and enthusiasm to improve scientific understanding of the area. The Chilterns Conservation Board led the project design, secured the funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and lead the delivery in partnership with BBOWT, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

The Marsh Award for Youth Ornithologist was awarded to 20-year-old biological sciences student Anna Webberley. She relaunched the Cardiff University Ornithological Society as a welcoming and diverse community after it was disbanded due to Covid-19 and, as the society’s president, has helped to promote citizen science surveys, organise trips to other parts of Wales and talks from leading conservationists – all while completing her degree and working to support her studies.

BTO Chief Executive, Professor Juliet Vickery, said: 'It is a delight to celebrate the achievements of such an amazing group of people. I am often asked what gives me hope for the natural world. One answer, without doubt, is the drive and determination of people like these who refuse to accept the status quo and work to make a difference. The values our award winners represent are at the core of our special partnership between citizen scientists and professional staff, something that continues to inspire us as we approach our 90th anniversary year.'

Contact Details

Tom Stewart
 (BTO Media Manager)
Mobile: 07585 440910
Email: press [at] bto.org (subject: News%20release%20enquiry)

Mike Toms (BTO Head of Communications)
Mobile: 07850 500791
Email: press [at] bto.org (subject: News%20release%20enquiry)

Images are available for use alongside this News Release. These can be downloaded from this link for which you will need to enter the password MarshAwards2022. Alternatively, please contact press [at] bto.org quoting reference 2022-40.

Notes for editors

BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Belfast (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations. www.bto.org

The Marsh Charitable Trust was founded in 1981 as a grant-making body by its current Chairman, Brian Marsh. As well as running the grants programme, over the past 30 years, the Trust has developed an Awards Scheme to recognise those who strive to make the world we live in a better place. The Trust has been partnering with BTO since 2010 to promote and celebrate ornithologists of all ages working locally and nationally in the UK and around the world for the conservation of birds.

The Society of Wildlife Artists is a registered charity that seeks to generate an appreciation of and delight in the natural world through all forms of fine art based on or representing the world’s wildlife. Through exhibitions and publications of fine art, the Society aims to further an awareness of the importance of conservation in order to maintain the variety of the world’s ecosystems and its wildlife. The Society also supports and promotes arts-based objectives of other conservation and wildlife charities.

The BTO Dilys Breese Medal is given in recognition of outstanding communication of BTO activities to a wide audience.

The BTO Jubilee Medal is given in recognition of commitment and devotion to the work of the BTO. 

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