habitat 2
Robert Parkin's signature

Conservation

Work, art, and otherwise.

You can't help but feel the urge to interact and in some way protect what it is that inspires you. Together with Angela my wife, I felt that we should somehow do more than just look at the world around us. Ever since childhood I had loved landscape and wildlife - so to see it marginalized and under threat as I became an adult angered me. In the 1980s, we became involved with what was then the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, and Sir Peter Scott. We formed ‘Nature's Way’ in 1984 and for many years concentrated our efforts in putting something tangible back into the world around us. We worked with and for English Nature, WWT, The Countryside Commission, RSPB, companies such as British Telecom and major landowners to develop nature reserves and wildlife areas across the UK. I was lucky in the mid-80s to be asked to co-present a BBC ‘Green Programme’. Since then I have worked with both radio and television on landscape and wildlife programmes - the pinnacle of which had to be an interview with Sir David Attenbourgh among the derelict basins of the Thames Water site at Barn Elms, London. Behind us, the Thames and Fulham football ground; amid millions of bricks we stood as the excavators began work on bringing to life one of Sir Peter Scott's great dreams: wetland wildlife in the capital, one of the world's busiest cities. My great regret is Sir Peter died shortly before that dream became a reality.

Robert Parkin with Simon King Robert Parkin making a radio broadcast Humber Marsh nature reserve
Wildlife film-maker Simon King and Robert on the Ardnurmurchan Peninsula in Scotland, together on the making of ‘Carna The Otter’ for a BBC Television Christmas special Robert working and presenting a live wildlife and conservation programme for BBC Radio The canal at Humber Marsh, home to grass snake and grasshopper warbler.

In 1990, Angela and I opened what had become our dream, and, after six years of very hard work, the first private reserve in the UK dedicated to teaching conservation and ecology to schools and colleges was at last, opened. My painting had largely been put aside to concentrate on our conservation work, and today, after many years of working - ‘hands on’ - with nature, it has become the better for it. Just to look from a distance offers only a superficial glimpse of what is really there. If you really want to see, pick up a pencil, look hard - and draw it.

Nowadays I love to get involved in schools in both art and conservation. More and more people are becoming aware of the fact that we live in a fragile world, and for me, it's great to hear children angry at the way we adults have treated their inheritance.


Brecon Cathedral wildflower meadow - year 2
Brecon Cathedral wildflower meadow
year 2


Nature Shops : treasure trove to a country lover.

Nature Shop grew out of the need to fund the development of our ecological education programmes, and direct land purchase for reserves. The shops; in high street positions and within garden centres pioneered the way for ‘green’ products in the UK; until then the only other retail outlets promoting the emerging green product range were in Paris. Our shops were designed with the family in mind, particularly the relationship of parent and child, by very careful product choice and commissioning our own range of retail goods.

view of Nature Shop interior view of Nature Shop interior interior view of nature shop

Wildlife art featured extensively. I designed the shops to follow particular habitat themes, which gave people the opportunity to shop within a woodland, wetland and meadow. Angela and I worked together on producing ‘living sculptures’ to both entertain and guide people through the varying habitats




Humber Marsh Wetland Nature Reserve

The first private teaching reserve in the UK. The reserve became a Mecca for both artists and photographers. BBC television ‘Country File’ followed its creation, over a period of six years.

Humber Marsh Nature Reserve Humber Marsh Nature Reserve visitors' centre Humber Marsh Nature Reserve
The lake at Humber Marsh Humber Marsh Visitors' Centre
Teaching area at Humber Marsh
Humber Marsh Nature Reserve open day Humber Marsh pond Humber Marsh pond, one year later
Humber Marsh open day
Humber Marsh pond
Humber Marsh pond
- one year later

Visitors on ‘Open Day’ enjoy close up views of grass snakes swimming along the open water channels connecting individual ponds. Kingfishers catch the larvae of great diving beetles only yards away from summer visitors. Wildlife misses no opportunity to re-establish itself given the chance - we must do it before it's to late.

wildflower meadow on the Humber Marsh nature reserve
‘Snow in June’

Humber Marsh

The wildflower meadow is a haze of white as oxeye daises reach full flower.
The meadow, sown only months before, plays host to swirling butterflies.

Habitats created by ‘Natures Way’ mature to become home to countless birds and mammals. Very satisfying to see a plan ‘lift’ off the drawing board and become a living landscape.