2018: Our personal highlights

Danube Delta, Romania © Michel Roggo

By |2018-12-20T09:15:01+00:00December 20th, 2018|People and Wildlife, Programmes, Synchronicity|Comments Off on 2018: Our personal highlights

 “Synchronicity Earth has blossomed. Every facet of our organisation has grown in confidence – our focus and function never more purposeful. 2018 has been a year where, as the Co-Founder, I have watched in awe as Synchronicity Earth has grown beyond my wildest dreams.”

Jessica Sweidan

The Synchronicity Earth team, November 2018

In 2018, our team continued to grow as our work to address overlooked conservation challenges gathered pace.

We have made great strides with our programmes, identifying new partners and collaborations and bringing in new sources of funding for the urgent challenges they are addressing. Our Congo Basin is a case in point:

“I think my personal highlight this year was returning from maternity leave to see how much our programmes (and the team behind them) have developed. In particular, seeing how my vision for the Congo Basin programme has become a reality over the last year with a pooled fund now supporting 16 amazing partners in the region to protect forests and rivers and the people and wildlife they are home to, has been really exciting for me.” Katy Scholfield, Co-Head of Programmes

Autumn saw the launch of Synchronicity Earth USA, a new funding initiative to build new relationships and support for our work to conserve biodiversity. In September, our SE USA launch in New York coincided with key UN talks on a long overdue treaty to protect biodiversity in the high and deep seas.

“My highlight for the year was working with the rest of the team to host an event in New York to share the work of Synchronicity Earth with an entirely new audience. It was a wonderful chance to have fresh and interesting conversations about the conservation challenges that we are all part of and all need to face up to. Above all, for me, it was an opportunity to highlight and honour the amazing work of our partners working on the high and deep seas, many of whom were able to attend the event.” Anna Heath, Conservation Research Analyst

Our efforts to bring more conservation attention and funding to highly threatened and often overlooked freshwater ecosystems have taken off in 2018, and we’re excited to see this develop in 2019.

“The real highlight for me this year has been spending time on a new initiative to engage organisations and individuals with an interest in freshwater fish in contributing towards their conservation in the wild. This innovative new partnership is called Shoal, and has grown from a mere concept at the beginning of the year to the point where a full time Executive Director is now in place and we are researching pilot conservation projects ahead of an official launch on March 1st 2019.” Merlin Veron, Conservation Research Analyst

The Shoal partnership has been made possible through the appointment of its Executive Director, Mike Baltzer.

“I joined Synchronicity Earth on October 1. After working outside the UK for the last 18 years and coming from an organisation of over 5000 employees, it has been an extremely pleasant and inspiring change in my life to join the small, dynamic, expert team. It has been wonderfully nourishing for the soul to begin work on ecosystems and species that are in such dire need of conservation but lack the attention that many other species get.”

Watch this space to see how Shoal develops over the coming year. Meanwhile, work continued to protect some less well-known and celebrated species.

“This summer I travelled to Prague Zoo to spend time with Tshewang Lhendup, from the Royal Society for Protection of Nature in Bhutan, a key partner for our White-bellied Heron work. He was there to learn about breeding large waterbird species and handling and care of injured birds. It was great to see how learning exchanges such as this can be so enriching. This type of exchange can help to increase the chances of survival for captive White-bellied Heron, increasing the chances of success for the breeding programme designed to secure the species future.” Gemma Goodman, Co-Head of Programmes

Not forgetting amphibians…

“Returning from maternity leave to discover so many positive changes and developments throughout Synchronicity Earth and the Amphibian Survival Alliance was a highlight for me this year. I’m confident that the work being done will be of huge benefit to amphibian conservation in 2019 and beyond.” Helen Meredith, Head of Amphibian Programme

Our Director of Strategic Conservation, Simon Stuart, continues to lead our involvement in key processes to ensure that conservation is as effective as it can be. He also reminds us why we’re doing what we do.

“Much of what I do is chairing meetings – for better, for worse, I’m a committee man. In April, after completing a very intense 3-day meeting of the Key Biodiversity Areas Committee, we drove for about one hour from Austin, Texas, to witness the extraordinary spectacle of 5 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerging from a hole in the ground. It was a fantastic reminder of the real reason why we do all this committee work, to save species and places like this.”

As we highlight in our Many Faces of Conservation blog, we treasure the relationships we build with people involved in conservation, wherever they are and whatever their involvement.

“My highlight for 2018 was having the chance to interview so many interesting people working in a broad range of different fields but who all share the same passion for the natural world. It was a real privilege for me to have the time to talk to them, hear their stories and experiences and learn so much.” Jim Pettiward, Head of Communications

“One of my highlights for the year was our work with London-based contemporary artist Louis Masai to bring to life a series of six murals of ‘evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered’ species with stories that highlight conservation optimism at the ZSL London Zoo. I had the pleasure of interviewing Louis about the inspiration for his work for a crowd of his fans and other zoo visitors at a special Zoo Nights event, and I’m excited to think how many more future visitors will get to continue learning from the murals in the years to come.” Cheli Cresswell Sinclair, Engagement Strategist.

As we continue to grow, we welcomed some fantastic new people to our team in 2018. Sophie Grange-Chamfray has joined as our Programme Manager.

“Synchronicity Earth has a unique, innovative and creative approach to conservation. Since I joined, I’ve found one of its greatest strengths lies in the incredible passion, generosity and humanity of every single person working here.”

Throughout 2018 – and before – we have benefitted from the knowledge and experience of William Eccles, who we are delighted to say has joined our Board as a Trustee. Our Finance team has also seen some great new additions.

“The warm welcome I received upon joining the Synchronicity Earth team has been quite amazing. It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by talented, passionate, committed colleagues all of whom are working extremely hard towards our hugely important common goal of biodiversity conservation.” Judith Twentyman, Head of Finance and Risk

“In my first 7 months at SE, my personal highlight was the team off-site day, which gave me more of an insight into all the wonderful work happening within the team and a clear vision of where we are going as we approach our 10-year anniversary.” Owandji-Virji Okutu, Finance and Operations Assistant

Helping our new team members settle in has been a key role for our Head of Operations and Relationships, Victoria Steele.

“One of my highlights was bringing Owandji into our team. It has been lovely to watch him settle in and take on everything we have thrown at him (which in our small team can be a lot). It is also great to have another data geek in the office to conspire with!”

 Last but not least, we continue to be inspired by the work others are doing to protect nature, restore biodiversity and care for the world around them.

“It was such a delight to attend ‘Wilding – an evening of inspiration and joy’ this autumn, organised by the Environmental Funders Network with a husband and wife team, Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell. To hear them talk about transforming the way they manage their 3,500 acre estate in Sussex and the return of nightingales, turtle doves, owls and bats to their land was so uplifting. I can only recommend the wonderful book that Isabella Tree has written, Wilding, about this developing transformation. It is a story of real hope and pure joy.” Catherine Bryan, CEO and Trustee

A huge thank you to all our partners, co-conspirators, friends, ambassadors, allies and of course, our donors and supporters, for making 2018 such a great year!