Newly elected RSPB chairman warns of decline in wildlife

A puffin with a number of small sandeels held in its beak (c) Chris Gomersall, RSPB
A puffin with a number of small sandeels held in its beak (c) Chris Gomersall, RSPB
The UK’s largest nature conservation charity, the RSPB, has elected a new chairman, Kevin Cox, who wants to reverse the collapse in wildlife diversity. JACK ALEXANDER reports.
During my lifetime we have seen significant declines in the diversity and abundance of much of our wildlife

Kevin Cox, a former magazine publisher, was elected as the successor to Professor Steve Ormerod at the charity’s Annual General Meeting this weekend (Saturday 7 October) and will take up his post with immediate effect. 

A former RSPB Council member, Kevin has also served on council and as a trustee of World Land Trust for the past 12 years. He was joint Managing Director of Future Publishing before going on to launch 

Origin Publishing, a successful specialist magazine publishing company. 

Following the sale of the company to BBC Worldwide, Kevin became Origin’s non-executive Chairman and subsequently attended the Bristol Board of Immediate Media (formerly BBC Magazines), publisher of all the BBC-branded titles, including BBC Wildlife.

Upland and woodland

Kevin’s lifelong interest in wildlife has led to his involvement in nature conservation and land management. 

In 2008, he helped Birdlife Bolivia set up a protected area for the critically-endangered Blue-throated Macaw and he remains a Friend of the Barba Azul Reserve. Since 2011, he has served on the council of Devon Birds, most recently as chair.  

During my lifetime we have seen significant declines in the diversity and abundance of much of our wildlife

Kevin lives on Dartmoor where he takes a keen interest in the conservation of the moor, especially for upland and woodland birds.

Science and nature

Kevin Cox said: “It’s an enormous privilege to take up the role of chair of RSPB Council. I am a passionate advocate for all aspects of nature conservation and I will do my utmost to support RSPB and spread the word about our vital work.

"During my lifetime we have seen significant declines in the diversity and abundance of much of our wildlife. RSPB is key to reversing that trend and delivering a healthy, thriving environment for people and nature.”

Mike Clarke, the RSPB’s chief executive, said: “I would like to express enormous and sincere gratitude to Professor Steve Ormerod, who has led us through the last five years with passion and enthusiasm, as well as sharing with us his huge knowledge and understanding of science and nature conservation.

“As Steve departs we welcome Kevin Cox to the Chair and I’m delighted to have him on board.  With his background in magazines, Kevin understands how to engage and communicate with a range of audiences, and we know he will help the RSPB to inspire more people to care about nature.

RSPB Medal 2017

Earlier this year the RSPB took the unusual decision to award the RSPB Medal well ahead of its AGM. Eminent wildlife scientist, Dick Potts, was awarded the Medal by RSPB Council shortly before he died in March.


Dick made a sustained contribution to conservation and conservation science from the1970s onwards, particularly through ground breaking studies into the effects of chemicals on farmland birds, especially the grey partridge.

The RSPB Medal is the most prestigious award the wildlife charity gives out, and recognises outstanding contribution to nature conservation.

Conservation action

The RSPB Medal winner is usually decided in June, and presented at the RSPB AGM in October, but Dick had been seriously unwell for some time and so an early decision was made. Dick sadly died on 

Thursday 30th March, but fortunately his wife, Olga, was able to tell him of the accolade shortly before he passed away.

Professor Steve Ormerod said: "We have lost a remarkable and visionary figure in Dick Potts - whose foresight inspired crucial scientific work and conservation action. 

Legacy lives on

"His contribution to farmland wildlife science has created a legacy for birds like the grey partridge whose very presence in the UK might have been threatened if he hadn't stepped in early, recognised they were in trouble, and identified why.

"The RSPB would like to offer our deepest sympathy to Dick's wife, Olga, and thank her for allowing us to give this award to mark his outstanding work and passion for farmland wildlife."

Olga Potts said: "Dick would have felt truly honoured to have received this award. In true Dick Potts fashion, he would have seen this as not just an award for himself but for all those who, over the years, have worked for the issues he cared so deeply about. We will ensure his legacy lives on."

The RSPB Members’ Day and AGM took place at the QE11 in London on Saturday 7 October 2017.

This Author

Jack Alexander is a regular contributor to The Ecologist.


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