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RSPB conservation chief to make landmark speech to gamekeepers

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Conservation Director will give gamekeepers a unique opportunity to hear at first-hand how the RSPB views their profession when he takes to the podium during the NGO’s 17th Annual General Meeting at JCB’s World Headquarters in Staffordshire on 16 April. The speech will be the first occasion on which the RSPB has directly engaged with the gamekeeping body’s membership at a national level.

Mr Harper has been Conservation Director at the RSPB since 2011 and began at the charity as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, before becoming Head of Sustainable Development in 2006. He studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at University College London, working at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.

He said: “I’m honoured to be invited to deliver the keynote address at the AGM. Gamekeepers manage large areas of our countryside, including some of our most important landscapes for wildlife. There are potentially exciting opportunities to maximise the benefits of this work and we’re eager to work with the industry to end environmentally damaging practices. Nature is in crisis and we all need to work together to help address this. This will be a great opportunity to debate what role gamekeepers can play in improving nature’s fortunes.

Lindsay Waddell, the Chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, said: “It is a great pleasure to have Mr Harper as our guest at the AGM. I’d like to extend to him a warm welcome. I am looking forward to hearing his address on the RSPB’s position regarding shooting and conservation and its stance on the environmental work done by gamekeepers across England and Wales.

Mr Waddell added: “Make no mistake, Mr Harper’s speech will break ew ground for us. It will be the first time the RSPB has engaged directly with the NGO’s membership at a national level. I hope for a constructive discussion on how game management and the RSPB can work more harmoniously for the good of our countryside and its wildlife.”