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This discussion has now happened but if you would like to watch a recording please see below.

Lucy McRobert

The Gaia Girls: can women save the natural world?  Saturday 22 August 4-5pm

There is a general feeling that women’s voices have been lacking in the UK conservation sector for too long, particularly from ethnic minorities. The UK wildlife movement is full of passionate, inspiring and deeply knowledgeable women of all ages, but for many years senior management boards, charity governance, television broadcasting, nature writing and academic conferences were dominated by middle-aged white men. Are times changing? Women have already played a critical role in the protection of nature, and have a valuable and vital contribution to make if we are to save nature. They offer different ideas, different ways of seeing the world and will offer different solutions and ways of working. Collectively this diverse panel will discuss the barriers to women getting involved, what changes they are seeing happening, the contributions that they believe women can make and what their hopes are for the future.

Gaia, one of the Greek primordial deities, is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess who embodies the idea that nature is female. Under such an ideology, mirrored in cultures and societies around the world, it is logical that women have a key role to play in saving nature and our environment. We hope you can join us for this insightful and interesting conversation!

Chaired by Lucy McRobert

Our panellists are:

Gillian Burke joined the much-loved BBC Springwatchbrand – a seasonal wildlife series, affectionately known as ‘The Watches’ – in 2018 alongside hosts Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan & Iolo Williams.  She also recently presented the BBC’s Blue Planet UK with co-host Steve Brown.

Having earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Bristol University, Gillian pursued a career in natural history filmmaking, working her way up the ranks from Researcher to Producer/Director on several Animal Planet and Discovery Channel series.

Outside of her television work, Gillian applies her biology and media experience to work closely with a number of charities based in Cornwall where she now lives.  She is the patron of the Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust and an active volunteer of the Marine Strandings Network where she attends call-outs for stranded marine mammals and seabirds. She also supports the work of the Wildlife Trusts, Buglife, The UK Wild Otter Trust and a number of other organisations


London-based, Judy Ling Wong was born in Hong Kong in 1949. She is a painter, poet and environmental activist. For many years, Judy invested her energies into changing the world, and is Honorary President of the charity Black Environment Network. During these years, Judy took the voluntary environmental sector from a position of zero involvement with ethnic minorities to 100%. In 2000, Judy was honoured with an OBE for pioneering ethnic minority environmental participation, and in 2007 a CBE followed, for services to heritage. Judy is a vision caster and a major voice on policy towards social inclusion. Over the years, her contribution has included membership of the DCMS Historic Environment Executive Committee, ODPM Urban Green Spaces Task Force, National Trust Council for England and Wales, Wales Assembly Government Environmental Strategy Reference Group, Scottish Museums Council National Access and Learning Steering Group, and the IUCN/WCPA Urban Specialist Group.


Journalist and social historian Tessa Boase spent three years uncovering the untold women’s story of the early RSPB for her 2018 book, ‘Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather’. She grew up on the Ashdown Forest, Sussex, and lives in Hastings with her family.




Since September 2018 Jamey Redway has worked at BTO. In December 2019 she founded their diversity working group. Outside of work she is part of the Norfolk Badger Trust, and is a wildlife artist, currently undertaking her Masters in Illustration.





Following a degree in Biological Sciences from Durham University, Jo Smith  completed a PhD and then spent a few years working in academia undertaking research and lecturing in both the UK and USA. Jo then moved to the environment sector to become more directly involved in inspiring people to care about the natural world. Since then Jo has worked for Norfolk County Council as well as a number of different NGOs including Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Field Studies Council and Sustrans.
Jo took on the role of Chief Executive for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in May 2014. Under Jo’s leadership the Trust has led on several successful large scale partnership programmes as well as some high profile campaigns; in particular the campaign against the badger cull campaign. Recent highlights have included initiatives to reintroduce Beavers to the Trent Valley and establishing an exciting rewilding initiative in our uplands.
The Trust has worked hard to increase its reach and influence through a number of initiatives including charity shops on the high street, a music festival and paid non-graduate entry level work schemes. The Trust also runs an innovative wellbeing programme in partnership with the YMCA, Women’s work and the NHS.
Jo sits on The Wildlife Trusts England Committee, the Campaign for National Parks Committee and led on the National Godfrey and Glover Reviews for The Wildlife Trusts. Jo is also a Trustee of the Derbyshire Environmental Trust.

This discussion has now happened but if you would like to watch a recording please see below.




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