James Borrell is a writer, speaker and scientist, with a passion for fieldwork and expeditions. He is currently based in London, whilst studying rare species in the Scottish Highlands and promoting a Year of Citizen Science.
James runs this website, with the aim of encouraging aspiring conservationists. He blogs about fieldwork, motivation, adventure and getting involved. Here’s a few of the most popular pieces. James also runs a monthly newsletter. You can get in touch with him here.
His first experience of expeditions was a month spent in the rainforests of Madagascar at the age of 17. Subsequently he has been involved with several further expeditions to Norway, the Peruvian Amazon and Oman, conducted research in South Africa, sailed the Atlantic Ocean and traveled over land from London to Istanbul in search of Europe’s Wild Places. James’s main research interests are the effects of habitat fragmentation on the conservation of rare species. He is also a keen advocate of youth development through scientific expeditions. James can now be found working on a new conservation project in the Scottish Highlands whilst promoting a Year of Citizen Science.
In early 2006 James became involved in an expedition to Madagascar lead 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.
Despite his young age, almost immediately 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 in Norway. Unlike most of his friends, James rather nervously received his A level results via Sat phone from a valley in Norway.
He went on to study Biology at the University of Exeter, giving James 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 (excuse the pun), 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 of 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 recently published in 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.
More recently, James returned from 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.
James is now preparing to work on an exciting new conservation project in the Scottish Highlands, as well as continuing to encourage young people to get involved with conservation projects through a Year of Citizen Science. James also hopes to one day lead an expedition back to the place where it all started, Madagascar.
Follow on Facebook:
Don’t miss an update:
Receive one email a month with news and the best bits from the blog.