TV stardom for environmental historian

03 Nov 2010 15:51:28.327

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He is one of those lucky people whose work is based around a true passion — for birds, nature and wildlife.  Now Dr Rob Lambert’s career as an environmental historian at The University of Nottingham is taking a new twist.

Dr Lambert is the latest academic to find fame on our TV screens. He is one of the expert voices in a new four part BBC TV series — Birds Britannia — which begins at 9pm on Wednesday November 3on BBC Four. The programme, which celebrates British birds in art, literature, folklore and popular culture will feature experts, both amateur and professionals, who study their biology and behaviour.

Dr Lambert said: “This will be a landmark series from the BBC Natural History Unit that blends together the socio-cultural history of the British people and the environmental history (the ‘species stories’) of some of Britain’s most cherished and recognisable birds. As such it will have wide appeal, as it sheds real light on the complex and changing relationships over time between nature and people in these islands. It will enthuse and inspire, but also reflect on how modern Britain (both wild and cultural) has been shaped by a combination of human impacts and values and attitudes, and natural forces at work.

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Over four weeks Birds Britannia will look at garden birds, water birds, sea birds, and countryside birds. It will tell how, for centuries, birds were regarded purely as objects to be used for food and fuel, sport and recreation. And explains how, over time, they came to be valued and cherished.

The series producer of Birds Britannia, Stephen Moss, said: “I have known Rob both as a fellow-birder and as a superb environmental historian, who has a real ability to convey complex ideas and fascinating stories in a powerful, compelling way. He is one of the real stars of the series.”

First and foremost a naturalist Dr Lambert’s notes and diaries on bird watching go back to when he was a boy of 10 — today as one of the most respected academics in his field his research continues to focus on nature and natural history and wildlife.

His diverse range of interests includes ecology, environmental geography, history, tourism and the environment and sustainability. His work brings together the relationship between people and nature over the years and follows that relationship through to today in aspects of sustainable tourism.

His passion for nature and the world around us attracts a loyal student following — in the Nottingham University Business School where he teaches tourism and the environment in The DeHaan Institute (DHI) and in the School of History where he teaches environmental history.

Dr Lambert said: “My students get a very strong sense of the importance of our interaction with nature and the natural world. And what they learn from me is that the relationships they have with nature throughout their lives will be one of the most fundamental aspects of their interactions with the world around them.

“This understanding of our environment is especially important to people who travel a lot — they will see more, they will engage, they will interact and they’ll come to, hopefully, cherish and protect. After hundreds of year of use and exploitation and appropriation of natural resources — as we strive towards sustainability and the protection of biodiversity I think that is fundamentally important.”

Dr Lambert’s research has taken him from the mountains of Scotland where he studied the environmental history of the highlands to the seas around our coastline and the story of the grey seal in Britain. Much further afield he has worked with IAATO, the governing body for Antarctic tourism. He is currently looking at birds of prey and alien species and how their fates have depended on our attitudes, values, perceptions and ethics over the centuries and how sustainable tourism may become the final destination for some our most iconic birds of prey such as the Osprey and the Red Kite.

The University of Nottingham has broad research portfolio but has also identified and badged 13 research priority groups, in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass. Key research areas at Nottingham include energy, drug discovery, global food security, biomedical imaging, advanced manufacturing, integrating global society, operations in a digital world, and science, technology & society.

Through these groups, Nottingham researchers will continue to make a major impact on global challenges.


Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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Story credits

More information is available from Dr Rob Lambert on +44 (0)115 846 6699,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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