NOW talks to the custodian of Alladale Wilderness Reserve and founder of The European Nature Trust.
Paul Lister is the custodian of Alladale Wilderness Reserve(AWR) and founder of The European Nature Trust (TENT), a UK based charity. He plays a role in encouraging people to appreciate the value of nature with trips to the wilder parts of Romania, Spain, Scotland and Italy. TENT co-produces natural history films, organises eco-trips and fundraising bike trips to project areas, as well as organising multiple fundraising and capacity building parties & events annually. Find out more at Alladale Wilderness Reserve and The European Nature Trust.
One phrase that describes you?
In your own words, what do you do?
Encourage people to connect to nature.
What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability (of people or planet)?
The work we have achieved so far at Alladale Wilderness Reserve; amongst our most significant projects we have planted 850,000 saplings, restored our peatlands, educated 1000s of local school children and reintroduced red squirrels.
Which is your favourite part of your job?
Seeing others gripped by nature when enjoying trips with TENT.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least?
The endless flow of emails.
Who or what is your greatest influence?
The work of the Tompkins Conservation Doug and Kristine Tompkins have been at the vanguard of Wildlands philanthropy for 30 years in Chile and Argentina – after successful business careers they found their true purpose in nature.
Best advice you’ve been given?
Look after your health as best you can, without which nothing is possible.
What was your Plan B?
Be a musician – Chris Martin comes to mind!
What is your personal indulgence?
Following and watching ATP Tennis.
What do you do to make any travelling you do sustainable?
80% of all my trips and holidays are TENT related projects, and so hopefully leave a lasting impact. Also the tree planting at AWR makes a significant contribution to offsetting my carbon footprint.
What do you do about carbon emissions?
Travel is not the big issue when compared to child birth! I have no kids – having kids is possibly the biggest contribution to climate change and the consumption crisis that individual can make.
What is your personal favourite place to travel to that’s trying hard to be sustainable?
I love travelling to visit conservation projects in Eastern Europe under my own steam. I’m trustee of a project in Romania called Carpathia, which has some fantastic tourism projects. More at Carpathia – European Wilderness Reserve.
What steps do you take to make your daily life more sustainable?
Help save old forests, plant trees, use public transport and cycle as often as possible.
What must happen now to help make our planet more sustainable?
Well I don’t think capitalism serves us particularly well; more and more wealth in fewer people’s hands. Also the notion of never ending, exponential growth on a finite planet with limited resources is nothing short of ridiculous. We must truly appreciate our place on this planet and become more humble and caring of mother nature. We depend on nature (my god), nature does not depend on us – we simply cannot survive on a depleted planet. We must stop living in the past and instead challenge all the crazy habits we have manifested that have adverse effects on the planet.
If you could have one hour with a world leader, who would it be and what would you say?
I don’t wish to meet any of them. I believe we need a global environmental policy for all countries alike. We are all far too individualistic, disconnected and often arrogant.
Any regrets so far?
Just wish I had given up the furniture business 10 years earlier.
To find out more about Alladale’s rewilding project, read here.
To find out more about wellbeing retreats at Alladale, read here.