email: dan at bignature ‘dot’ co ‘dot’ uk
Over the last 35 years I’ve gained extensive experience working in the education sector. Roles have included: Teaching volunteer (ZSL 1986-87), Primary school teacher (1998-1999), Secondary school teacher (1988-1989, 1990-1991, 1999-2021) Undergraduate tutor (1992-1993) Cambridge, 1994 – 1996 Sussex) and Adult education tutor (1992 Durham).
Furthermore, I have planned and co-led numerous field courses in England, France, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Ghana. I have also undertaken advisory work from the very beginning of my career e.g., 1986 – 1987, Environmental Education Officer (University of North London) and this continues to this day, as I am frequently asked to give advisory talks to organisations from here and around the world. For example:
2017 Earth Optimism Summit at Cambridge University:
2021a Cambridge Conservation Initiative – CCI:
2021b Cambridge Conservation Initiative – CCI:
I led the following events to promote biodiversity awareness: 2008, the Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count – I created Brighton & Hove’s first online citizen science biodiversity project, working closely with the Brighton & Hove Biodiversity Action Plan steering
group. This scheme inspired Butterfly Conservation to take the idea to the national audience, now the Big Butterfly Count. In 2022, over 150,000 counts were registered, representing more than 38,000 hours of counting in gardens, parks, and the countryside.
• 2008–2021, Ghana schools’ biodiversity project – I developed this project to monitor butterflies on the campuses of our two link schools. Multiple return visits to Ghana later led to me setting up and chairing the Ghana committee, to raise funds and aid the people of this region.
• 2009 – 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) – I proposed and led an informal partnership of local environmental organisations (under the name of Big Nature). This formed the city of Brighton & Hove’s response to the IYB, allowing us to put on a series of public events over the entire year. Thus, Big Nature was included in a national partnership coordinated through the Natural History Museum, which was then the UK’s agent for the Convention on Biological Diversity. See http://www.bignature.co.uk/about/page/3
• 2010, the Bee Aware Campaign – working with French colleagues we devised this citizen science project using online recording to compare the abundances of six different bee species in the city of Le Harve, France and Brighton, England. To help with identification and raise awareness of the scheme, 25,000 French and English identification guides were distributed in each city.
• 2015 – 2023, Butterflies of the Biosphere (BOTB) – designed to promote the UNESCO designated Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve (The Living Coast). I set up BOTB Facebook group to encourage people to record their butterfly sightings in the reserve. This was supported with BOTB videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRIWLrKvw9CMX9bmuxzOxSg/videos and additionally, I worked with colleagues to create and print 27,000 BOTB posters.
• 2020 – 2023, the Corfu Butterfly Survey (CBS) – I developed this five-year citizen science project to encourage visitors and residents to record the butterfly sightings they make on Corfu. To date 4,858 records have been submitted of 34,465 butterfly and 387 moth sightings. This data will be used to produce the first comprehensive Corfiot Butterfly Atlas. Habitat management, restoration and creation: Much of my woodland management has been carried out using conventional methodologies. However, my research into chalk downland habitat restoration has been more exploratory, based primarily upon the importance of species metapopulation dynamics, in a landscape approach to conservation.
• 2000 – 2021, the Surrenden Campus Woodland – I worked with colleagues to manage this 400 hundred year old urban woodland by working with pupils, staff, governors, and members of the local community. Subsequently, hundreds of individuals now understand the principles of woodland management.
• 2005, the Dorothy Stringer Educational Pond – I worked in partnership to design and organise the construction of this educational pond, with the help from members of the local community. This project was funded by a £10,000 Barclays New Futures grant and has now been used by many thousands of children and other members of the public.
• 2007 – 2023, the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven – I coordinated this project, the first of its kind, to topographically modify chalk landscapes to manipulate the temperature at ground level, for early successional chalk downland butterfly species. This community project was funded with a £10,000 BBC’s Breathing Places Scheme grant. Since the site’s creation, 89% of the city’s butterfly species have been recorded at this location. I have advised widely on this work and the technique is now being used in many parts of the country.
• 2012 – 2021, the Friends of Coldean Woods – I encouraged the formation of a resident’s group, based on an understanding with Brighton & Hove Parks Department, to manage this municipal woodland in exchange for wood fuel. These residents also learnt about woodland management techniques and the value of managing our urban environments for wildlife.
• 2015 – 2023, the Coldean Lane Wildflower Meadow – I worked in partnership with some Coldean neighbours and Brighton & Hove Parks Department, to manage the amenity grassland between my house and the road. We created a species rich meadow by planting it with 5,000 wildflowers of local provenance. An interpretative display was unveiled by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove to inform the public of global biodiversity loss, whilst providing a local example of what can be done to reverse this trend.
• 2021 to present, the Friends of the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven – I established and lead this group to manage the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven for Dorothy Stringer School to use as a teaching and learning resource, as well as providing the public with access to a local biodiversity hotspot.
In addition to a formal thesis and two dissertations I have written a mixture of over 50 peer reviewed papers, magazine articles and journal notes. Most of my research projects have been centred around invertebrate community ecology, examples include:
• 1994 – 1998, The influence of vegetation and microclimate on the structure of chalk grassland Auchenorrhynchan communities. D. Phil. Thesis. University of Sussex.
• 1990 – 1991, The significance of woodland succession on invertebrate and specifically Carabid beetle assemblages, at High Beach, Epping Forest. M. Sc. Dissertation. University of Durham.
• 1985 – 1986, Investigations into the successional factors affecting the aquatic invertebrate communities of farm ponds, at Marston Fields Farm, Buckinghamshire. B.Sc. Thesis, Grade A (Distinction). Oxford Brookes University.
• 1985 and 2005, A comparison of the changes in Orthopteran community structure recorded at different altitudes in the French Pyrenees, in surveys conducted twenty years apart. These were independent investigations.
• 1993-95, Investigations of surfactant-enhanced essential oils as mosquito larvicides. University of Cambridge.
• 1995, Studies of the diurnal behaviour patterns of the Speckled bush crickets Leptophyes punctatissima (Bosc.) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). University of Cambridge. Education and qualifications:
• 1983 – 1986, B.Sc. (Hons.) Environmental Biology, Grade 2.2. Oxford Brookes University, Headington, Oxford.
• 1987 – 1988, P.G.C.E. Environmental Science, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath.
• 1989 – 1991, M. Sc. Advanced Ecology, University of Durham, Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham.
• 1994 – 1997, D. Phil. The influence of vegetation and microclimate on the structure of chalk grassland leafhopper communities, University of Sussex, School of Biological Science, Falmer, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 9QG.
I have set up two extant organisations, where I am:
• the Executive Trustee, see: http://www.bignature.co.uk
• the Executive Chairman, see http://www.corfubutterflyconservation.org
Awards and notifications:
• 2006, awarded the first Environmental Teacher of the Year Award, in recognition of the contribution made to Environmental Education within the City of Brighton & Hove.
• 2010, awarded the first Brighton & Hove’s Chief Executive’s Award, for contributions to Urban Nature Conservation within the City of Brighton & Hove.
• 2012, awarded the Stamford Raffles Award by the Scientific Awards Committee of the Zoological Society of London, for outstanding contributions towards the advancement of biodiversity education.
• 2015, selected by the Brighton & Hove Independent from a population of nearly 300,000 as 1 of 100 people who play a significant role in shaping the city of Brighton & Hove.
• 2015, awarded the National People, Environment and Achievement Awards for Environmental Education within the UNESCO designated Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve.
• 2015, awarded Butterfly Conservation’s Outstanding Volunteer Award.
• 2018, awarded the H H Bloomer Silver Medal by the Linnean Society of London, for work on habitat restoration for chalk grassland butterflies.
• 2019, awarded an honorary Fellowship of the National Association for Environmental Education