Under The Spotlight: Zac Baynham-Herd

PhD student, TEDx speaker and Conservation Comedian Zac Baynham-Herd talks about his research into conservation conflict and the use of blockchain technology for sustainable development

Zachary Baynham-Herd
PhD Student
University of Edinburgh

In this weeks edition of Under the Spotlight we talk with Zac Baynham-Herd, PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. His PhD research explores conservation conflict interventions, with a focus on conflict over elephant conservation and rural livelihoods in northern Tanzania. He uses interdisciplinary approaches, combining qualitative research methods with innovative experimental games. He has also been researching applications of blockchain technology for sustainable development with the Edinburgh Futures Institute. He occasionally does conservation related stand-up and has given a TEDx talk on how digital technology can reconnect us to nature.

Lets see what else Zach had to say as he went under the spotlight...🔦

What inspired you to get involved in conservation and the environment?

Attenborough, my collection of wildlife atlases and the tadpoles in my garden have all got to take joint responsibility for inspiring my passion for nature. After that, once I learnt about how much wildlife we are losing, I guess I wanted to try and do something about it.

If you could change one thing to make a huge impact on the planet, what would it be?

Tough question. Besides making Jurassic Park real, probably a carbon tax. More boring but probably a better bet. Or at least some effective way of pricing carbon to speed up transition to renewables.

Zach in Tanzania

How would you convince the Donald Trumps of this world that biodiversity is important?

If you can convince Trump that his support base want him to be big on nature, he will be big on nature. But to convince voters and politicians to prioritise jobs or economic growth less and nature more is hard. I think there is a general need to acknowledge that economic growth is good but not free. I.e. growth has been good for people (hence why people vote for it) but that it has come at a cost - to nature - that is currently unaccounted for, and that will cause increasing problems for people.

What is your most memorable encounter with an animal or nature?

I think the first time I saw a badger. I was out walking my dog and saw a few strange hairs caught on a barbed wired fence, with a small trail running under it. I followed the trail and eventually found what I thought was a badger sett. So I came back that evening (without my dog) and sat there for ages, just waiting. Until eventually a badger emerged from the sett and strolled straight past me - I was (silently) ecstatic.

Zach shooting for Travel Channel's 'Mysteries at the Museum' - out this year!

Who is your conservation role model?

It's got to be Sir Peter Scott - pioneer of natural history broadcasting, originator of the IUCN Red Data book, co-founder of WWF, and founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. (He's Attenboroughs hero too, so I'm in good company)


If you would like to get in contact with Zach then you can find him on Instagram @ZacBaynhamHerd

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