Embracing Criticism: The World Through the Eyes of our Opponents

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Sometimes we are our own worst critics… but we never seem short of others offering opposing views with equal vigour. What motivates the opponents of (what we see as) righteous environmental causes? We dismiss the concerns of these groups at our peril, so how do we engage in constructive discourse and how do we accept when our critics may well have a point?

You will

  • Dare yourself to swap worldviews with your most challenging audiences
  • Explore what we need to change as environmentalists, to be perceived as friend rather than foe


FERGUS COLLINS is a journalist and magazine editor for BBC Countryfile Magazine with 20 years’ experience in publishing.

He lives on a wooded hill in the Brecon Beacons and is a keen but amateur naturalist. In his day job he witnesses and reports on many environmental, conservation and animal welfare issues, while his home life gives him a first-hand understanding of the mindsets and motivations of farmers, hunters, conservationists and land managers.

Fergus offers an editor’s perspective on how policies, press releases and other messages can be perceived by different groups with a stake in the rural/environmental world as well as insight into how to get stories picked up by journalists.

rob-yorkeROB YORKE is an independent commentator on rural affairs, and a communicator, seeking common ground around agriculture, nature conservation, farming, wildlife, forestry, birds, fieldsports and rewilding. He’s had a few letters on the enviro in The Times (105) and is also a practising rural chartered surveyor.

He welcomes feedback – of any kind – at his website www.robyorke.co.uk

Savita Custead

SESSION CHAIR SAVITA CUSTEAD is Chief Executive of Bristol Natural History Consortium. She joined BNHC in 2006, when the partners who make up the partnership were finding  their way in the first years working together. She helped BNHC gain charitable status in 2008, and as Chief Executive continues to grow the impact and reach of the projects locally, nationally and across Europe. Savita has represented BNHC for a number of initiatives, including co-founding the UK Science Festivals’ Network, and chairing Defra’s People Engagement Group to advise government on implementing Biodiversity 2020. She is a board member of the European Science Festivals Association, and advises international engagement projects. Savita travelled to Brussels to take part in Bristol’s presentation to win European Green Capital in 2013, and in 2014 and 2015 was seconded part time as the Director of Education and Engagement for Bristol 2015.

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