Roland Gauvain, CEO of Alderney Wildlife Trust, has won the Pride of Guernsey’s Conservation Hero of the Year award.
Formerly the States of Alderney Conservation Officer, Mr Gauvain played a leading role in founding the UK’s smallest Wildlife Trust nearly 20 years ago. With the support of a similarly passionate team of volunteer biologists, ecologists and conservationists, he has worked tirelessly ever since to protect, enhance and showcase the Island’s diverse natural environment and wildlife.
Mr Gauvain was nominated by AWT Director of Outreach Claire Thorpe. She told judges that he had always focused on the ecological gains he could achieve for the Island.
Creating the Alderney woodland and grazing projects to increase floral diversity, she said, ‘would never have been achieved if it were not for Roland – he has had a very real, positive impact on our wildlife and wild spaces.’
‘Some of the work Roland has ensured is the creation of the two terrestrial reserves and their bird hides – some of the best ways of watching wildlife here.’
The prize-giving took place on Saturday night at the Guernsey Press offices. Mr Gauvain did not make the trip across to Guernsey, in keeping with the Trust’s ethos of keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum.
Former AWT Conservation Officer Julia Henney accepted the award, which was sponsored by Butterfield, on his behalf and read out an acceptance speech sent by him.
Here is his speech in full:
‘My time working for Alderney’s natural environment, especially working for the Alderney Wildlife Trust, has been both my passion, but also my profession. I feel inadequate when I compare myself to all those who dedicate their time and energy to caring for our Island’s wildlife.
‘Our world is at a cross roads. Within a short span of years we now predict the loss of 1/3 of all species from our planet, a truly staggering figure which we can no longer pretend will leave us unaffected. As Islanders we have a unique responsibilities and opportunities to counter what is happening. In doing so we can show our islands as examples of what can be done to integrate caring for our natural world into all parts of our lives.
‘We should not mistake taking action on the environment as altruism. This is a battle to survive. As small islands we are faced with serious global economic challenges.
‘We cannot afford to lose our pollinators because of the impact on our crops and even our gardens, nor would we accept a shortage of clean drinking water, not because of the impact on our wildlife but because of what this would mean for our Island’s residents.
‘Managing sea level rise and the impacts of changing weather patterns is something we now actively dealing with as even conservative estimates assume a rise of perhaps 0.5m by level rise by the end of the century. In Alderney that will impact not only our harbour but numerous homes. The results for the rest of the Bailiwick could be far worse.
‘Our response to Covid on both a global and Bailiwick scale has demonstrated how dynamically humankind can act when pushed. With global economic recession now an acute threat, we must make plans take nature to heart.
‘The recognition of conservation within the community has helped to highlight the work of those already engaged in fighting to ensure our islands truly survive.
‘I would like to dedicate this award to all those I work with at the Alderney Wildlife Trust, who really deserve the credit.As well as all those naturalists, volunteers, school children, teachers and professionals who take action every day to care for our wild islands.
‘I will put the prize money to supporting these volunteers providing resources and where possible additional training.’