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Geoffrey Coates

  • From Scotland
  • Proposed by Richard Barnes, seconded by Julian Jenkins
  • Retired agronomist
  • BASC member for 30 years

I graduated from Leeds University with a degree in Agricultural Zoology in 1977 before joining an ICI subsidiary in Scotland where I trained as a Fieldsman. Work focused on growing arable crops to harvest, as well as grass seed mixtures.

In 2000, changes in the ACP brought the UK Agri-environmental schemes. I became the Environmental Project Manager for Syngenta, training more than 750 growers to establish ELS & HLS habitats, pollen & nectar, wild bird seed mixtures and tussock grass margins on their farmers and estate. This work influenced Defra, NE, CEH to review the Ag.Env. schemes and move to landscape-scale work.

In 2008, I took the success of our UK work into Europe and I pioneered similar habitat establishments with tailored mixtures from Portugal to Bulgaria, working with governments, academic institutions, ELO wildlife estate, hunting organisations and growers. The project, primarily focusing on pollinators and farmland birds, has now become a global initiative with Syngenta.

Over these many decades I have seen the disconnect between urban and rural life. Misunderstanding of farming practice has produced challenging questions to answer, not more so than here in the UK from public audiences, business presentations, media and even dinner parties. The recurring question concerning agricultural practice and our country sport is “why do we do what we do?”

Country sports have always held a special place in my life outside a busy work schedule, e.g. running the Bottesford farm shoot as shoot captain and shoot secretary for 15 years. I have organised salmon fishing syndicates on Scottish rivers for over 30 years and latterly have become chairman of the Taymount timeshare salmon fishing on the Tay.

Here in Perthshire, I am a member of a local shooting syndicate, help run shooting on a neighbouring estate and work with the keepers on a cluster of local estates and farms to reintroduce grey partridge.

What makes me the ideal candidate? I believe I can bring in valuable knowledge and expertise, helping to focus the direction and activities of BASC members, employees and management teams, particularly in environmental gain on a landscape scale.

“Environmental gain” must focus on biodiversity, promoting the understanding of targeted seed mixtures, habitat establishment and management, to support ALL wildlife and answers the question “why do we do what we do?” So, BASC will be putting it back! This is not only for our quarry species but the greater good of all wildlife.

Strengthening the link more closely to conservation as a sporting association must be the critical pillar in the BASC strategy going forward, to protect and promote our sport and ways of life.

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