Ten Faces of EOCA: 6 Scientific Advisor

During 2016, EOCA is celebrating being 10 years old! Ten years of the European outdoor industry funding conservation work in the great outdoors. In that time, the Association has funded work in over 36 different countries around the world, making a real difference to threatened habitats, species and landscapes.

As part of EOCA’s celebration of its tenth year, a series called ‘Ten Faces of EOCA’ will feature on our website throughout the year. These ten faces will be people who have been key to the success of the Association, or people who represent key partners of the Association. It may even be the face of a species that has benefited from the Associations work! Its going to be tough to choose only 10!

In 2012, EOCA established a Panel of Scientific Advisors. These are Professors, Doctors and international experts in various areas of conservation who voluntarily give their time and expertise to EOCA. These advisors review the shortlist of projects that EOCA puts together from all of the applications each funding round and are able to comment on which projects are of highest importance for conservation and which ones will have the most impact for the funding available. They also advise on specific conservation questions the general mangers may have throughout the year as well as the general direction of the Association. EOCA is hugely grateful to each of these five individuals, who have all played a pivotal role in the success of EOCA. The Scientific Advisors are:

Mr Jonny Hughes, expert on wetlands and species, Chief Executive at Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scotland .
Dr Nick Brown, forestry expert, Oxford University
Professor Charles Sheppard, marine expert, University of Warwick
Dr Kathy Velander, expert in ecotourism, Centre for Ecotourism and Wildlife Management.
Professor Martin Price, expert on mountains, University of the Highlands and Islands.

You can read more about all five Scientific Advisors HERE

For this article, we interviewed Jonny Hughes about his role in the success of EOCA.
Since March 2014, Jonny has been Chief Executive at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scotland’s leading environmental charity. Before being appointed Chief Executive, he was Director of Conservation at the Trust and before that Head of Policy. He is a member of the Strategic Development and Research Committee of The Wildlife Trusts and works closely with many other Wildlife Trusts.

In 2012, he was elected to the global Council of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is the current chair of the Programmes and Policy Committee of Council. In 2016 at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii he was re-elected by IUCN members to serve a second four-year term. In the UK, he is vice chair of the IUCN UK Peatland Programme.

As well as fulfilling these two roles and that of Scientific Advisor to EOCA, Jonny is also co-founder of the World Forum on Natural Capital, an initiative led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme, the IUCN, the Natural Capital Coalition and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The World Forum aims to provide a platform for businesses, finance professionals, NGOs, government and academics to explore new approaches to valuing and restoring our natural environment.

Jonny still describes himself as a field ecologist, having a particular interests in ants and lower plants as well as higher plant communities and birds. He was a former advisor on ancient woodlands to the Forestry Commission in England and has developed expertise on peatland ecosystems through his involvement in several projects to protect and restore peatlands since the 1990s. Jonny also worked on the early development of the Marine Act for Scotland so has some knowledge of marine ecosystems, particularly in relation to policy and legislation.

EOCA is a member of IUCN and invited Jonny, in his capacity as a Councillor, to become a Scientific Advisor for the Association in 2012. Thankfully Jonny accepted the invitation, pleased that Scientific Advisors could bring an evidence-based voice to decisions on where funding should be awarded. It is important for any organisation working in conservation to have access to good independent scientific advice to help deliver aims and objectives with integrity and transparency.

Asked how EOCA is perceived in the world of conservation, Jonny stated that EOCA will be well known to those organisations it has funded and to its members, as well as to all of the projects and the millions of voters who have participated in its biannual vote for project funding. There is always more than can be done but since it was founded, EOCA has significantly raised its profile and spread the word about its mission to ‘significantly contribute to the conservation of wild places and ecosystems for future generations’. It is a very welcome addition to the global conservation community and a valued IUCN member.

Jonny firmly believes that businesses worldwide must be a much bigger part of the solution to the multiple environmental challenges faced globally. Membership of, and engagement with, organisations like EOCA is an excellent first step. He’d also encourage businesses to go further and use tools such as Natural Capital Accounting to more deeply understand their impacts and dependencies on nature, throughout their value chains. Natural Capital Accounting is part of what might be called ‘second generation’ corporate social responsibility (CSR), a systematic appraisal of the whole business and its impacts on social and environmental systems.