From my earliest memory I was fascinated with nature, more than anything else. Once I realized the environment was in trouble, this kindled a powerful motivation to work actively in conservation. Science was the path I chose to do this. A PhD in ecology was followed by 13 years working for state government environmental agencies. I started out wanting to know how conservation is actually done, ‘on the ground’, and to use my skills and knowledge to do it better. I have tried to inject scientific facts and logic into conservation policies and projects, with varied levels of success.
But some years ago I came to the realization that facts aren’t very effective in changing human behavior (and conservation is primarily about changing human behavior). The climate change debate is a good example of this. There is probably more scientific evidence that climate change is real, and caused by people, and its consequences will be dire, than for any other topic in human history. And there is no shortage of communication channels to convey this information far and wide (although some media outlets certainly do not help). But still there is doubt and skepticism. Because of this, I have become more interested in other ways to engage people in nature, and to awaken concern for the environment.
Science is the best way of improving our rational understanding of nature. But perhaps we have forgotten why people like nature in the first place. And what makes them want to conserve it.
In 2015 I took a year’s leave from my public service job to explore other ways of communicating environmental stories, and other ways of connecting people with nature. I started writing a book, that morphed into other books. I created this website and blog. I went to Bimblebox Nature Refuge and discovered I was an artist, after all. And I never went back to my ‘real’ job.
Even though years of scientific training had taught me to view nature in an objective and analytical way, I always sensed there was much more going on. The visual, the sensual, the imaginary and the emotional were always demanding my attention, whenever I was in a natural setting. So now I’ve succumbed to that barrage of stimuli, and I take great delight in combining words with pictures, and feelings with facts. And the results are rich and rewarding.
I now spend my time drawing, writing, reading, learning… running nature journaling workshops and getting out into nature as much as I can. This combination of science, art and nature seems to fit me better than any other job I’ve ever had. And I haven’t starved yet 🙂 .
I hope you enjoy my work as much as I do!
In 2019 the ABC TV show Gardening Australia created an episode of their ‘My Garden Path’ series featuring the lovely Raymond and I. You can check it out here.
Below is an interview with Marley Peifer of ‘The Nature Journal Show’, recorded in April 2021: