Conservation Conversation


Professor Lynda Warren, Deputy Chair and independent Joint Committee Member.

Professor Lynda Warren, is Deputy Chair and an independent Joint Committee member, currently a Commissioner on the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and previously an Environment Agency Board Member.  She is Emeritus Professor of Environmental Law at Aberystwyth University and a Fellow of the Institute of Biology.


Q. Species that inspired you as a child?


A. Worms – my mother loathed them which made them even more interesting to me.  So much so that I finished up doing my PhD on them.

Birds – we lived in south London and one of my treats was to go for walks with my dad and look at the wildlife.  He bought me Ladybird Books on birds which I still have.  My first husband was a bird watching fanatic so maybe that says something about me too.

Fossil ferns – we found one in a piece of coal once when I was a child and it fascinated me.  My second husband is a palaeobotanist specialising in Carboniferous pteridophytes – pre-destiny?


Q. What concerns you most about the natural world in the next two decades?


A. We are more and more concerned about the impacts of climate change on humans and because of this nature conservation will suffer. Too many people are failing to recognise that without the natural world there is no world for humans. 


Q. What would you do with a £1 million grant for nature conservation?


A. I can’t think of anything better than to spend it on land purchase.  Ownership is still the best protection you can get.


Q. What do you do when you’re not saving the world?


A. If only I was saving the world! My favourite activities are reading, going to the cinema and sleeping.


Q. What would you like to achieve in your time at JNCC?


A. Getting to grips with how we look at nature conservation from a UK perspective when we have devolved administrations. Also, continuing with the good progress we are making with marine nature conservation and

Langdale Pikes, Lake District. © Paul Glendell/Natural England

ensuring that any new legislation is underpinned by policy that recognises the fundamental importance of conserving our marine resources.



Q. What is your favourite place?


A. Ross Island, Antarctica.  I spent a wonderful time there working at Scott Base with the New Zealanders. 

In this country, it would be impossible to choose between the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District and the Dale Peninsula in Pembrokeshire – both places I visited on field courses in the sixth form at a time when I had hardly travelled outside south east England.  Glorious, atmospheric scenery and wonderful wildlife.


Q. Who is your human hero in the natural world?


A. An unsung one.  Chris Tydeman, former Chief Scientist with WWF-UK and now chairman of the Herpetological Conservation Trust.  His knowledge and enthusiasm for nature conversation inspired me and made me change direction from physiology and cell biology to ecology and conservation.


Q. What’s your pet hate in nature conservation?


A. Laws and policies that treat nature conservation as just one more sectoral interest that needs to be balanced against all the other sectoral interests. We should put the protection of biodiversity first but we never do. If you haven’t got natural resources you don’t have anything else.


Q. Desert Island disc?


A. An impossible choice between Bob Dylan’s Forever Young – because he’s been part of my life since I first went to see him in concert in 1964 – and Bach’s Violin Concerto for 2 violins in D minor – because it takes my breath away.


Q. Place you’d most like to visit?


A. When I was doing my PhD on polychaete worms, I found some specimens in the Natural History Museum that had been collected from Tierra del Fuega.  They were enormous and I’ve wanted to go see the place they were found ever since.  I would also love to see the Aurora Borealis but, so far, trips to the north have failed to deliver.


Q. When I’m reincarnated I’m coming back as ...?


A. I’m sorry, I know it’s not very environmentally sound, but it would have to be a domestic moggy – all that sleep in the lap of luxury would be bliss.

Due to a technical issue at our typesetters, last issue's Conservation Conversation contained several answers which were not those given by our subject. We are therefore reproducing the corrected article in full in this edition.