by Jonathan Allen article From a young age, Jonathan Allen has been fascinated by the world around him.
The 16-year-old from Bristol, UK, spent years studying the history of animals, plants and minerals and eventually found himself interested in how animals reproduce.
In fact, he says, “I’m an evolutionary biologist, so when I was 11 I was pretty much drawn in by evolution”.
The result was a passion for natural history.
“I was fascinated by how life emerged, the process by which species develop, and I also wanted to know how organisms change,” he says.
Allen is the founder and CEO of Zoological Conservation, a conservation and science consultancy.
Zoological and Conservation, based in Brighton, has become one of the leading conservation organisations in the UK.
It has established a network of more than 2,500 conservation staff and has more than £3bn invested in research and development.
The firm has also created an innovative partnership with the BBC that aims to “make the most out of natural history”.
“Our research and conservation programmes have been extremely successful,” says Zoological Director of Conservation, Richard Poulton.
The firm’s programmes include the documentary ‘The Natural History of Life’, and the documentary, ‘Natural History of Insects’, which will be screened in the BBC’s Natural History series later this year. “
We’ve also been a pioneer in the field of ‘natural history documentaries’, which have now become a global phenomenon.”
The firm’s programmes include the documentary ‘The Natural History of Life’, and the documentary, ‘Natural History of Insects’, which will be screened in the BBC’s Natural History series later this year.
And, of course, its popular series, ‘The Zoological Garden’, which focuses on natural history of insects.
In an exclusive interview with New Scientist, Allen reveals how he started his own consultancy in 2012, what it takes to be a successful natural history conservationist and why he’s determined to keep his eye on nature for the next 50 years.
What started out as a hobby, Allen says, was a chance encounter with the Royal Botanic Gardens in London.
The first meeting was with a professor at the university, and they ended up meeting a few more times.
“At that point I thought, ‘this could be interesting, this could be fun, and it could be an opportunity for me to get a little more out of my day’,” he says of the first meeting.
So Allen took up the challenge.
He now has more time than ever before to enjoy nature and to work with people who share his passion.
“The natural world has given me a whole new perspective on life and nature,” he explains.
“There’s a lot of amazing stuff that we don’t know about, so there’s a great opportunity to understand how we got here.”
What is natural history?
The term natural history has been used to describe research that explores how and why nature is different to other organisms.
It can also refer to an aspect of nature that has not been researched enough, such as the genetic diversity of insects or mammals, or how the evolution of birds and other animals is connected to how birds and animals are adapted to different habitats.
The BBC has a very wide range of natural and conservation themes that it presents in its programmes and is also an important part of its DNA.
Its series of natural documentaries on the natural world and on the relationship between nature and people is one example of this.
The term has been widely used by researchers and conservationists for decades, but has been largely overlooked in the wider scientific community.
The nature of natural science is often criticised for being too narrow, focusing on a few species of animals or insects, and for being dominated by the interests of a small number of scientists.
Naturalists often argue that the focus on only a few animal species is a mistake because they are the only species that scientists are likely to be interested in.
But it is important to recognise that the natural sciences are more than just studying animals, says Paul Moller, a zoologist and conservationist at the Natural History Museum in London, who was involved in the evolution and conservation of insects and was an adviser on the BBC Natural History documentary ‘Natural Selection’.
“The science of the natural environment is not about just one particular animal or a few insects, but about the interconnectedness of all the different species and the interaction of these creatures,” he adds.
“In this way, natural history is about the relationship we have with the natural system, the connections between the different parts of the system.”
What’s the deal with bees?
Beekeepers and gardeners are often described as “bees”.
But they are also known as “hives”, “beeswax” or “dandelions” by the public, and their health is highly valued.
In the United Kingdom, the UK Bee Council estimates that around two million bees are killed for the food and fibre they produce.
It also says that around 2.2 million pounds of honey is consumed in the United States annually.
In 2011, British beekeepers planted a whopping 8,500 hectares