When people think about naturalists I think the perception is still often rather outdated. Recently Patrick Barkham, a superb natural history writer for the Guardian who has also wrote two great books, wrote an article about the Birdfair. His article in my opinion didn’t help challenge the stereotypes stating ‘The air is thick with beards, floppy sunhats and expensive optics’. This was picked up by Stephen Moss who rightfully challenged this article. I went to the Birdfair this year and was struck but how balanced it was, there was people there from all ages, genders and backgrounds, all united in their love for the natural world. I really wish this fact had been highlighted more as it does put people off if they think only certain people are set out to get involved with natural history. It is true that in the past natural history may have been the pursuit of the landed gentry but this is by far not the case anymore. There is a surge of young people standing up to make a difference in the conservation sector with support from organisations such as A Focus On Nature and Next Generation Birders. I must point out that natural history is still full of older people who have built up decades of experience and knowledge. This is a great thing and it is often these people who inspire younger naturalists and we can learn a lot from them – as long as knowledge is passed down to younger people and not lost. There is a lot still to be done though, we need more provisions to help young conservationists get on the career ladder, after all we are the future! It also used to be the case that natural history seemed to be the pursuit of men only and not women. I am pleased to say that this is definitely not the case any more and I would say that it is quite balanced now.
— Beth Aucott (@BethAucott) August 19, 2014