Still quite murky… – Mark Avery

At the end of November I posted this about the WWT’s ‘refocus’ document. I’d read it several times and couldn’t really make much sense of it. It felt a little more like something one would find on a corporate website which was aiming not to tell you anything than the sharp new vision for a leading environmental NGO.

It will be interesting to see how it pans out. The redundancies hinted at in the document are playing through and some of what I regard as the familiar faces at Slimbridge have departed. Now, quite a few people close to WWT are wondering what the changes mean for various aspects of the WWT’s work, including some fairly high-profile aspects. We’ll have to see how this plays out over time but there are ripples of concern in the conservation community.

The bigger picture with WWT, I can’t help but feel, is that it is an organisation built on a very strange foundation where captive waterfowl collections bring in the public through the year for a day out and at many sites wintering wildfowl spectacles add to the draw of the centres in winter, and that this produces income and support for a range of conservation work in the UK and abroad. The ‘duck-zoos are us’ model, as it is unflatteringly called at times, is a difficult one to make work particularly at a time of lockdowns and avian flu. But surely it is a difficult one to maintain into the future anyway?

I wonder what the great Sir Peter Scott, genuinely one of the most all-round gifted Britons of the twentieth century, would make of the current conservation scene and of the organisation he set up back in the period after WWII – this year sees WWT’s 75th birthday.


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