In 1990, after four years of working as an architect in Oxford and London, I decided that designing commercial office buildings wasn’t my thing. I went to Thailand and by the time I came back all my friends had become eco-warriors. I got involved with the anti-road campaign at Twyford Down in the UK. I was arrested several times for protesting against the destruction of two Sites of Special Scientific Interest and sued by the government once (they lost, I’m delighted to say). Unfortunately the road through Twyford Down was built, but the protests at Oxleas Wood, Solsbury Hill, Leytonstone, Newbury and others led to the government shelving its ridiculous road building plans.
In 1996, I studied forestry at the Oxford Forestry Institute, which helped me to understand better (but not agree with) practitioners of modern scientific forestry. My MSc thesis was titled, “Reforestation in Vietnam in the context of the globalization of the pulp and paper industry” and is available here.
Since October 2008, I have been working on REDD-Monitor, looking at the developments in the world of “avoided deforestation”.
In 2010, I wrote a report for FERN, about the awarding of an EU Ecolabel to a company belonging to Asia Pulp and Paper – one of the most destructive pulp and paper companies on the planet: “EU Ecolable allows forest destruction: The Case of Pindo Deli“. (For those who find a 25-page report too long, here’s an article by Fred Pearce in the Guardian: “The deflowering of the EU’s green logo.”)
In 2008 I completed a report for World Rainforest Movement: “Plantations, poverty and power: Europe’s role in the expansion of the pulp industry in the South“. The report was downloaded more than 10,000 times in the six months after it was posted on WRM’s website.
In 2006, I wrote a report with Timothy Byakola of of Climate and Development Initiatives about a carbon offset project at Mount Elgon in Uganda: “A funny place to store carbon“. The story was subsequently reported on by (among others) Forbes magazine and Zembla TV in the Netherlands: CO2 Alibi.
I worked for two years with TERRA, an NGO based in Bangkok which works in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. TERRA aims to support local communities rights to make their own decisions about their environment. My main job was coordinating and producing TERRA’s magazine “Watershed”.
I have worked on several projects and articles with other NGOs, including Oxfam Mekong Initiative, SinksWatch, The Corner House, Friends of the Earth International, Rainforest Foundation, Robin Wood, Urgewald, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and FERN.
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