Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


December 19, 2007

Martin Palmer

Secretary General, Alliance of Religions and Conservation (

Today’s Date: 5 December 2007

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

Seeing my first heron. I lived on a bleak public housing estate in Bristol in southwest England . It had been built by the Council in the 1950’s and was a place where all nature had been squeezed out. One day as I was walking home from school – I must have been about 9 – a heron flew overhead. I just stood and stared. I had no idea anything so big or beautiful still survived in Britain , and certainly not near or in cities. Its languid way of flying; its almost aristocratic poise and distain for the rest of the world took me by surprise. Since that day, whenever I have seen a heron, it has always been a sign of good luck for me. The heron has become my totem. It has taught me about how linked we are to nature and how vulnerable nature is to us. At one level you could say that my desire to protect nature comes from my desire to ensure that herons can always fly slowly across the sky; that they can always fish in plentiful waters and that they can live side by side with us.

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

Yes. The Quantock hills in Somerset which are wild and free and windswept and where my magical godmother lived who taught me to read the landscape for its history, geology, wildlife and spirituality.

Now? Still the Quantocks but alongside this the mountains some sixty miles to the east of Ulaan Baator in Mongolia where on an otherwise frenetic trip to look at projects my charity was running there with the Buddhists and World Bank, I and my wife found peace, found ourselves held by nature and protected at a very difficult time after my father’s death.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is and why?

Apart from the heron, which I don’t think counts as an animal in the sense you are asking about, it would be the sloth. I love their slowness, the extraordinary way they gradually move through the trees, the way they hang upside down, looking at us with huge astonished eyes. I love the story I was once told that they move so slowly mould grows on them! But also they are such a symbol of nature’s vulnerability. They cannot escape the hunter or the logger. So we have to save their habitat so they can continue to meander slowly through the trees as they have done for millennia.

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

The greatest challenge today is being diverted into just focusing on “climate change” given that this has now become little more than a political battlefield and economic market. It is in serious danger of diverting us from long term solutions to destruction of habitat by human activity, population issues, power and poverty issues and – and the issue of adopting simpler lifestyles because they are right not just as a panic response to fear. Change is inevitable. Adaptation is possible.

In the future, the challenge will be what it has always been: balancing human demands against nature’s needs so that we begin to realise we should supply our needs not our wants. That is what lies at the heart of all the problems. Always has done: always will.

5. If you could give one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

Don’t panic. Plan for generations ahead not just for the end of your latest campaign.

Martin Palmer is the Secretary General of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and was instrumental in the creation of ARC in 1995 by HRH the Prince Philip. ARC specialises in projects related to religious, environmental and development issues and works with a variety of international organisations such as WWF, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNDP, the World Council of Churches, the China Daoist Association, the Islamic Foundation for Environment and Environmental Sciences and others. In 1997 he founded the Sacred Land Project which has expanded to involve projects all around the world, preserving sacred sites from Mongolia to Mexico .

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