SWT staff receives international award

Shropshire Wildlife Trust Communications Officer, Stuart Edmunds has been awarded for his efforts to protect pine martens in Shropshire. Stuart received the Animal Action Award, Conservation Category at a ceremony at The House of Lords on Tuesday 15th October.

He formed Shropshire Pine Marten Project in 2009 after hearing reports of potential sightings of the elusive mammal in Shropshire through his involvement with Shropshire Mammal Group. It was another 6 years before he eventually recorded the first Shropshire pine martens on remote cameras in the Clun Valley; the first evidence of them in the county since 1893. Since the discovery, Stuart has worked to raise awareness of these large weasel-like animals through public talks, school visits and meetings with landowners.

James Sawyer, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Stuart’s dogged determination to find and conserve the pine marten in Shropshire is outstanding and he is a great example of animal welfare in action. We hope his efforts will inspire the next generation of animal welfare and conservation campaigners. He is a very deserving winner of IFAW’s Conservation Award.”

An important element of Stuart’s work is awareness raising among members of the public and landowners and he also works to debunk some of the traditional myths which led to pine martens being persecuted as perceived pests in the past.

Stuart said: “As a very young child I used to love all the David Attenborough wildlife shows filmed in Africa and elsewhere but really didn’t think we had any exciting wildlife in the UK. Spotting that first pine marten in Scotland just kicked off a massive interest in UK wildlife for me. Now we know we have pine martens, it is really important to keep raising awareness and educate the public, not just about pine martens and other wildlife but conservation as a whole.

“One of the reasons we lost most of our pine martens was due to the destruction of so much of our forest habitat. With the effects of climate change and the need to plant more trees to help the planet, a great way to motivate people in tree planting is to remind them of the importance of trees as habitat for animals such as the pine marten as well as the wider benefits for us all.”

During his day job Stuart continues to focus on conservation as a communications officer with Shropshire Wildlife Trust, where he is able to align some of this work with pine marten protection. He is also volunteer chairman of Shropshire Mammal Group.

Stuart was presented the award by Lord Desai and television presenter Bill Oddie.

For more information about IFAW, please visit their website: https://www.ifaw.org/uk