Dr William Darwall
Will manages the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Species Programme’s Freshwater Biodiversity Unit (FBU). He has over 25 years experience working on and leading collaborative research projects on the ecology and conservation of aquatic ecosystems in developing countries. His current work with the IUCN focuses on implementing large-scale biodiversity assessments of freshwater systems: this includes an audit of threatened species for the IUCN Red List and the identification of Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).
He has recently led a large project to assess freshwater biodiversity throughout continental Africa, and now manages a number of other related projects in Europe and Asia, with a focus on livelihood values of freshwater species. His experience includes research and conservation projects in Malawi, Tanzania and Ireland, and he has worked in commercial aquaculture in Scotland. He holds a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Hull (2004) as well as an MSc in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Utah and a BSc in Zoology from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
On Synchronicity Earth:
“Up to now, the thing that has really struck me as the major role played by Synchronicity Earth, particularly for us at the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, is the way they have been able to provide long-term flexible funding support. This really is gold dust for us, because it doesn’t exist anywhere else as far as I can see.
As with a lot of smaller organisations, being entirely dependent on project funding, you tend to be driven by the donor and where they want to fund. Having the flexibility provided by Synchronicity Earth to choose where we develop projects has been of huge benefit to us.”
“From a personal point of view, a high point has to be the time I spent working in Lake Tanganyika. The lake is incredible, it’s crystal clear, and just standing in the shallows when I arrived there, I saw almost all of the species I had ever seen in my aquarium, swimming around my feet! The ecosystem there is so diverse – you’ve got the tropical forests coming down to the shore, with their chimpanzees and other animals, and then the water of the lake itself, which is crystal clear, and you get these amazing drop-offs – fun to dive on.”