James Borrell is a conservation biologist based in London. He runs this website with the aim of sharing a more optimistic outlook on conservation and to encourage the next generation of field scientists.
James has been involved with expeditions to Oman, Madagascar, Svalbard and the Peruvian Amazon, and conducted research in Brunei, South Africa and Finnish Lapland. He also sailed the Atlantic Ocean and traveled over land from London to Istanbul, across Botswana and through the Caucasus.
James’s main research interests are the effects of habitat fragmentation on the conservation of rare species. He is also a keen advocate of citizen science and youth development through scientific expeditions. In 2013 he founded Discover Conservation, a social enterprise that supports scientists whilst in the field and provides grants for the next generation of young conservationists.
For media enquiries and speaking/writing availability please head over here.
In early 2006 James joined an expedition to Madagascar led by the British Exploring Society. Seeing firsthand the unique wildlife and meeting the wonderful Malagasy people was humbling. However, the challenges for conservation in Madagascar over the coming decades, were overwhelming. James returned to the comforts of the UK with a new-found sense of perspective, and the aspiration to return one day to Madagascar with the necessary skills to in some way help.
Shortly afterwards he was lucky enough to be accepted on a leadership development programme. After a number of training weekends, including a rather soggy first night in a bivy bag, he joined the rest of the team on a ferry out of Newcastle to spend the summer on the Haardangervidda Plateau. Unlike most of his friends, James rather nervously received his A level results via Sat phone from a valley in Norway.
James studied Biology at the University of Exeter, giving the opportunity to become involved in research and develop a real passion for science, whilst keeping an eye out for the next opportunity for adventure. This came out of the blue, with the chance to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. With a little trepidation and blissful ignorance of what it would entail, he jumped at the chance and was on his way three weeks later, not before grovelling to get permission to miss a few exams.
During his vacations, James attended a Gatsby plant sciences week in York, and worked for a month in a biofuels lab. He also spent a summer at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, understanding how plants might adapt to climate change. As a product of these experiences, James spent the final year of his degree working on habitat fragmentation in forest trees. James graduated in the summer of 2011 with a first class degree and a Dean’s commendation. He won the William Frazer prize for his work on habitat fragmentation, which was published in the journal Bioscience Horizons.
Wherever possible, James also enjoys giving presentations to schools and youth organisations for BES and as a STEM Ambassador, hoping to encourage young people to embrace the opportunities available. James has also been interviewed on radio, online and in newspapers about his experiences.
In 2011, James was Science Coordinator for an Expedition to the Peruvian Amazon with a team of secondary school students. The Expedition carried out fieldwork to assess the health of this incredible ecosystem, and ensure it is well managed in the years to come. Subsequently he worked as a research assistant at UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve in South Africa.
In 2012, James was the chief scientist on a two month expedition to the Rub al Khali and Dhofar Mountains in Southern Oman, where he led research into the biodiversity of this unique and threatened area. The expedition was also successful in its ambitious goal of finding evidence of the critically endangered Arabian Leopard, thought to number less than 250 individuals in the wild.
2014 saw a two week stint in chilly Svalbard, quickly followed by a university fieldwork expedition to the rainforests of Brunei, on the island of Borneo and a month in the Kalahari and Okavango Delta of Botswana. James also launched a new social enterprise called Discover Conservation, which aims to support conservation scientists in the field whilst raising funding for young people.
James is currently studying for a PhD in conservation genetics at Queen Mary, University of London, with regular fieldwork in the Scottish Highlands and Finnish Lapland. He also continues to encourage young people to get involved with conservation projects through his Year of Citizen Science.
James has just returned from leading an international research expedition to a remote part of Northern Madagascar. Find out more here: Expedition Angano.
For more information on my research interests and publications, click here.
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A very occasional email newsletter with expedition news, conservation resources and speaking dates.
James has spoken to a wide variety of audiences from students to professionals. Talks are tailored to specific events and can cover a variety of topics drawing on experiences from expeditions and research to aspects of motivation and team development, illustrated with photography from around the world. Visit my Speaking page for more information.
James recently founded Discover Conservation, a social enterprise that raises funding for the next generation of young conservation scientists – take a look for more information.
Speaking at TEDx:
I’m always open to enquiries, free to get in touch with me over on the contact page.