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Green Week: Sustainability, the National Trust, and Beauty with Dame Fiona Reynolds

The keynote speaker of the Green Week timetable – which also involved sunflowers, Nick Firman’s garden tour, and a green formal – has a very green CV.

Dame Fiona Reynolds is the former director of the National Trust and was Director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England and Secretary to the Council for National Parks. She was appointed CBE for her contribution to the environment in 1998. From her student days she has been campaigning for national parks and the countryside. Currently the Master of Emmanuel College, her talk was full of passion about the countryside and its people.

Pembroke College Cambridge Green Week

The Green Week team with Dame Fiona Reynolds

Her campaigns have tackled ploughing on Exmoor, quarrying in the Yorkshire Dales, forestry plantations in the Brecon Beacons, and intensive sheep farming in the Lake District. From national parks she moved on to protecting the entire countryside, with the Campaign to Protect Rural England, working against the dangers of monocultures, unsustainable practice, and ill-formed subsidies of the 1980s. The importance of balancing human needs with the protection of our natural environment was evident in every word of Dame Fiona’s talk.

Through the National Trust Dame Fiona made great strides in sharing that passion for the countryside, and led the way in drawing the National Trust into the pursuit of sustainable energy; from lightbulbs to solar panels on castles, and peat-free compost to woodland management. Sustainability, she argued, is about those things we value but that can’t be traced through metrics and statistics; it’s about beauty.

Thank you to Libby Daley (2016) for organising Green Week.

Pembroke College Cambridge Green Week

Head Gardener Nick Firman leads a tour of the College gardens

Pembroke College Cambridge Green Week

Sunflower planting during Green Week

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