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Posted on: 16th March 2011
June last year was the month that saw Richard Partington officially launch into his role as new Chair of the EUROPARC Consulting board. Richard's life in protected-area work started in New Zealand, working in their National Parks and Reserves service. This gave him tremendous “hands-on” experience of working in wild and remote locations. Richard still cherishes these times, “New Zealand was very important to me personally and professionally. My two daughters were born in New Zealand and, during these formative years, my egalitarian values and aspirations were set – that national parks and protected areas are for all people to enjoy and how could I best help this?”
Contrasting with that came the opportunity to work in Europe’s largest navigable wetland – The Broads. Its then CEO, Aitken Clark, was a tremendous mentor. Importantly, he also introduced Richard to EUROPARC and its benefits of collaborative working, sharing expertise and knowledge. A period of service at Exmoor National Park followed during which Richard's conviction that the use of practical experience to inform management decisions developed. “When I was Director for Visitor and Communication Services at Exmoor National Park it was this philosophy that steered my work. Understanding the social and economic needs of local people and understanding how protected areas can help achieve a win-win situation is essential”. Using the experience of practical management and in-depth knowledge of protected areas was something Richard wanted to take into central UK Government – hence a move to the Countryside Agency and later Natural England.
So much for the past – what of the future? Richard has been setting out his aims as the newly elected Chair of EUROPARC Consulting. “Simply to increase our profile, make us better known, build the business and contribute to the Federation. For me it is a real privilege to be the current Board Chairman and I have a strong drive to carry on the valuable work started by its first Chairman, Aitken Clark. My immediate goal is to develop our business model, minimise risks, identify challenges and maximise opportunities and set a course to achieve our medium and long term aspirations. Our strength has been our ability to undertake any task, activity or project that falls within protected-area management or policy work in any country or language.”
The first 10 years have seen EUROPARC Consulting establish a solid foundation. Richard, with fellow board members and Director Wilf Fenten, will be developing a new strategy and business plan to plot out future initiatives. Richard concludes: “EUROPARC Consulting is about connecting people with great ideas and specialist knowledge of protected-area management, of nature conservation, of working with businesses, of sustainable tourism, designing good communications, working with stakeholders, etc. We match experts to projects and offer a reliable and unique service, with our experience drawing on the best people to do the job, large or small. In these times of financial restraint it makes good business sense to use a value-for-money cost-effective service such as ours.”