botany conservation biology

technogarden at your peril

Dr Shaun Russell is Director of the Treborth Botanic Garden at the Bangor University.   He is conservation biology, having worked to save environments pretty much everywhere – from bryophytes on subantartic islands, to big game in Africa to flower meadows in Wales.


Talking points

We need to move beyond fortress conservation

Technogarden at your peril

We have to deal with the complexities of nature, connectivity is key.

We need to value things that aren’t charismatic

Sustainable: Giving to the world more than you take out of it, not the same amount but more.

Success: The creation of the UNESCO biosphere reserve in Southern Chile, stopping the salmon farms, the timber people and the mineral extractions. Getting environment clauses into the constitution of Namibia, the time of independence where sustainability was on the rise.

Superpower: The fact that I have been lucky enough to work around the world, my ability to open people’s mind up and the connections that I possess.

Activist: Not really high profile, I am a part of my local activist groups.  I’m not a type of person who would go and hold a placard, I’m more a working behind the scenes with the students.  Hope for the future. 

Motivation: The love of countryside and wildlife.

Challenges: Leading the biodiversity action plan for the university.

Miracle: The first thing that went through my head was some sort of vast natural disaster that cut the world’s population in half, humans are just going to have to find the balance with nature. Another miracle would be for people in power to start making a difference towards a sustainable future.

Advice: We have limits that nature imposes on us and we are going to have to abide by them.


This conversation was made with help of the Sustainability Lab at the Bangor University.

business community ecology electricity generation

Empowering communities

Dr Paula Roberts is a Senior Lecturer at Bangor University.  Growing up in Llanberis she was “concerned about the natural world” and became a Countryside Manager.   Eventually though, she became an environmental scientist – specialising in soils of polar regions.   Passionate about change making, and the Welsh language and culture she now finds herself running a community power company.   Paula also runs an MSc in environmental management and business management – attempting to close the gaps between environment and business.

Talking points

Doing something rather than complaining.

Success: We have an interesting project about reclaiming coal mines in Indonesia, restoring previously damaged and degraded land into a productive resource.

Superpower: Tenacity, the ability to stick with it and keep going.

Activist: Yes, because you’ve got to push boundaries to get resulting change.

Motivations: I’m a cyclist and a mountaineer so I like to keep moving… I like to see places that haven’t been trashed.

Challenges: Getting another community energy project underway.

Miracle: It would be nice to find yourself in a place where the government and the policies are on your side, where they work with you instead of making yourself hit your head against a wall.

Advice: Life is a bit of a rollercoaster, you really never know where it is going, so you just have to learn to stay on.


This conversation was made with help of the Sustainability Lab at the Bangor University.

education values

Bringing sustainability to the centre

Bangor University is renown for its approach to sustainability.  And at the heart of that is Dr Einir Young.  She is  Director of Sustainability at Bangor University and runs the The Sustainability Lab.   With initial training in agriculture – “the basis for human survival” – Einir now works with many organisations to find effective solutions to complex ‘sustainability’ issues, focusing on generating prosperity through respecting people and living within the resource boundaries of the planet.    We talk about this, and the impact of the Welsh Wellbeing for Future Generations Act.


Talking points


How people relate to their natural resource base – we’re so pampered.

With you, rather than to you or for you.

Sustainability: Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland)

Success: Still being here, not just in a corner, instead bringing the issues it into the centre of what’s going on in the university and seeing other people joining in.

Superpower: The power of persuasion, the ability to convey an argument in a persuasive manner.

Motivation: I’m from a very optimistic family and I believe in Wales, I believe that Wales has something to offer the world.

Activist: There are three types of people in the world: people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who don’t know what happened. Personally I make things happen.

Challenge: I would like to think that I have left a legacy, being about to retire happily believing that my interests will carry on after I leave.

Miracle: Independence for Wales in a sustainable world, where Welsh language is widely spoken ( at least in Wales )

Advice: Don’t give up, it’s worth the slog.


This conversation was made with help of the Sustainability Lab at the Bangor University.