Yadvinder Malhi is Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University. His research interests focus on the interactions between tropical terrestrial ecosystems and the global climate, and how tropical ecosystems and their biodiversity and functioning can best be maintained in the context of global change. He founded the Global Ecosystems Monitoring (GEM) network of intensive monitoring plots across the tropics. This network also endeavours strongly to strengthen capacity and connect students and researchers across the tropics. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in 2018 was awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his work. He is currently President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
John Hemming was educated at Eton College, McGill University and Oxford University, where he received a PhD in Modern History. He was Director and Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), London, from 1975 to 1996, a time of great expansion in the society’s range of activities, membership and finance. RGS was particularly concerned with environmental issues in its many conferences and lectures, in papers in its three learned journals, and in its sponsored and supported field research. John was active in launching and organising the society’s multidisciplinary research projects in Mulu, Sarawak; Karakoram, Pakistan; Kora, Kenya; Wahibah, Oman; Kimberley, Australia; Mkomazi, Tanzania; and Temburong, Brunei. He was co-chairman of RGS’s Badia Research and Development Programme in Jordan and personally led the Maracá Rainforest Project in northern Brazil. This grew to be the largest research project ever organised in the Amazon basin by any European country, with some 150 scientists and 50 scientific technicians working from 1987 onwards, and an output of 15 books, hundreds of papers and extensive collections and scientific discoveries.
John has also been on many expeditions in Peru and Brazil, including the first exploration and mapping of the upper Iriri River. He visited or lived with over 40 tribes, four of them at the time of first contact. He is the author or editor of 16 books including The Conquest of the Incas, Red Gold, Amazon Frontier, Die If You Must: Brazilian Indians In The Twentieth Century, The Search for El Dorado, Change in the Amazon Basin and The Golden Age of Discovery.
John has been active in many charitable organisations including serving as Trustee of The British Council, Chairman of the Anglo-Peruvian Society, President of the Rainforest Club and Founder Trustee of Survival. He is currently a Trustee of Earthwatch UK, Hakluyt Society, Cusichaca Trust and Pro-Natura International, among other organisations. He has received numerous awards, including the Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) from the British government, Orden al Mérito (Peru) and Ordem do Cruzeiro do Sul (Brazil); medals and awards from Royal Geographical Society, Boston Museum of Science, Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Explorers Club (New York), Instituto Nacional de Cultura (Peru), Andean Explorers Club; and literary prizes such as the Pitman Prize and the Christopher Medal (New York). He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Warwick and Stirling and was named Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. He is currently chairman of Hemming Group Ltd. and of various publishing and exhibition-organising companies.
William Carey started his career serving in The Blues and Royals. Having completed a short service commission, he then worked for a number of well known investment management companies before co-founding Liontrust Asset Management PLC in 1995, a business successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1999. William continued as Joint Chief Executive until stepping down in 2004. During his time, the business grew to approximately £5 billion of funds under management with a market capitalisation of approximately £150 million. Since 2005, he has been involved in diverse projects ranging from investing in a small hotel business in Morocco to a political website called Hustings.com, that aims to get more people to engage in politics.
William became a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators as an Accredited Mediator in May 2006. In 2008, he was involved in setting up a rally team that enabled two young crew members to compete at a high level where they enjoyed considerable success. His main focus is now photography.
Vanessa Branson has enjoyed a life of working in the arts. From 1986 to 1991, she ran the Vanessa Devereux Gallery championing the work of emerging artists, most memorably being the first gallery to show William Kentridge in the UK. Vanessa is the co-owner of Riad El Fenn, a stunning hotel in the Medina of Marrakech. Her respect and love of North African culture led her to found the Marrakech Biennale (formerly AIM Biennale). It is North Africa’s only trilingual arts festival, comprising visual art, literature and film programs featuring acclaimed international and Moroccan artists. Vanessa is a trustee of the British Moroccan Society and Virgin Unite.
Wolde Tadesse, visiting scholar at the School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, has several years of field experience as an ethnographer among southern Ethiopian pastoralists and cultivators of the Omotic area as well as pastoralists around Lake Chew Bahir (Lake Stephanie).
In 2006, Wolde was initiated as elder (huduga) in his native community of dere Chencha in Gamo, where his current research activities are based. He is also a board member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility (IPAF) at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome and has served on other boards such as Dir Biyabir in California and Porini Association in Kenya.
Wolde has written on issues such as economic and bond-friendship networks in southwestern Ethiopia as well as the role of warfare in inter-group relations. With his former colleague Professor Thomas Widlok, he edited a two-volume book on property relations while at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. He then joined the African Rift Valley Programme of The Christensen Fund in California as Programme Officer, where he spent more than ten years planning and making grants for projects that contributed to biocultural diversity in the region. More recently, he led a team evaluating a DFID-funded project in Ethiopia implemented by Send A Cow UK and its partners. Prior to his PhD training in Social Anthropology at the LSE, Wolde worked as a Lexicographer of Omotic Languages in the Academy of Ethiopian Languages as well as working in various roles in the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture. He is fluent in Gamo and Wolaita dialects, and in written and spoken Amharic.
Originally from Switzerland, Sarah-Lan is an ethnobiologist and geographer with extensive working experience in Latin America and Eastern and Southern Africa. She holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Bern, Switzerland. Her professional interests focus on sustainable development and natural resource management, indigenous environmental knowledge, local food systems, social-ecological resilience and social learning processes.
Presently a Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Development and Environment of the University of Bern, she has over 16 years of experience in the management of and scientific expertise for international cooperation programmes involving research institutions, NGOs and community-based organisations. She was based for over 12 years in Lima, Peru, where she was a Postdoctoral Fellow and then a Researcher at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) from 2014 to 2018. Since 2010, she has also been actively involved in the NGO sector, first as Executive Director and then as Board Member at A Rocha Peru, a Peruvian environmental non-profit organisation focusing on community-based conservation and environmental education. Among other professional offices, she was a Board Member of the International Society of Ethnobiology from 2010 to 2014. Since 2016, she is Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Mountain Research and Development.
Sarah-Lan lives in Southern Portugal where she is currently developing a project on neglected food species, cultural landscapes and gastronomy.
Howard Nelson spent much of his career working on forest and wildlife conservation issues in the Caribbean, including research on threatened and game species, and the policy and management aspects of conservation. After taking an undergraduate degree at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, he worked for five years at Trinidad and Tobago’s Forestry Division, and subsequently at Trinidad’s Ministry of the Environment as a biodiversity policy specialist, focusing on wildlife, forest and national parks policy.
Howard’s MPhil research at the University of the West Indies examined the impact of hunting on mammal populations on Trinidad, while his doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used ecosystem modelling to understand tropical forest community patterns on Trinidad, their response to climate change, implications for wildlife distributions, and public perceptions of these resources.
Prior to taking up his position as Senior Lecturer, Programme Leader MSc Wildlife Conservation at the University of Chester, Howard was course coordinator for a regional MSc in biodiversity conservation at the University of the West Indies. He also worked in the environmental NGO movement as CEO of the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad, and served on several regional boards including as the former President of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (BirdsCaribbean) and Trustee of the Guardian Life Wildlife Trust. He is currently a Director of the Board and Programme Advisor for the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), and serves on the Darwin Initiative’s Experts Committee. Howard joined the GDF UK Board of Trustees in 2019.