Plants are essential to everyone's lives. Welcome to Plantlife.

Our Trustees

Simon Acland

Simon has spent most of his career as a venture capitalist investing in early stage businesses. He was managing director of Quester, one of the most active technology venture capital investors in the UK. As a result he has wide experience of acting as a non-executive director, having sat on the board of over 30 companies most of which at some point have been of a similar size to Plantlife. He brings to the Board of Trustees a clear understanding of the strategic, financial, and management challenges faced by organisations of this size.

Simon has written two historical novels set at the turn of the tenth century, and two business books : Angels, Dragons and Vultures – how to tame your investors… and not lose your company, a guide for entrepreneurs to the world of venture capital, and Elite – the Secret to Exceptional Leadership and Performance. He is also currently a non-executive director of various venture capital funds and companies, and is a member of many other environmental organisations.

Peter Ainsworth - Chairman

Peter was the Member of Parliament for East Surrey for 18 years until he decided to step down at the 2010 general election in order to pursue his interest in the environment and the arts outside parliament.

He held numerous posts including serving as both Shadow Secretary of State for Culture and Shadow Secretary of State of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2005 - 2009. Prior to that he chaired the influential Environmental Audit Committee. Peter also steered his own green energy bill, to make it easier for homes to install units such as turbines and solar panels, on to the statute book.

In 2005, in recognition of his work on the environment, Peter Ainsworth was awarded the Public Affairs News 'Politician of the Year' award. In 2009, Peter was given the PRASEG Environmental Politician of the Year 2009 award and was also named ‘Environmental Parliamentarian of the Year' by the Chartered Institute of Environmental and Water Management.

Peter has been involved with Plantlife since joining the Board of Trustees in 2006.

Richard Benyon

Richard Benyon has been the Member of Parliament for Newbury since 2005.  In Parliament, he has served as a Whip and a Front Bench Spokesman on the Environment and Wildlife.  

In 2010, he became Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, and was responsible for implementing the finding of Sir John Lawton’s ‘Making Space for Nature’ Report. 

Outside Parliament, Richard is a farmer and land-owner. He has won conservation awards and has a particular passion for woodlands, wild flowers and birds. 

Liz Bilton

Liz is a Chartered Accountant with experience heading up audit and risk teams in both industry and financial services. She is a pension fund trustee and has been working recently to set up a secondary school in her local Kentish village.

Liz’s passion for plant conservation stems from her interest in gardening and in plants with culinary, perfumery and medicinal uses. She is fascinated by the historical use of plants in human society and is keen to see plant diversity conserved.

She studied Natural Sciences at University. Liz is planting English Elms and other native trees at her home in Kent.

Philippa Lyons

With  over thirty years experience working at senior management level in the voluntary sector, Philippa has spent over twenty three of those years within the nature conservation arena. Philippa joined The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) as Head of Marketing and Communications for the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust in Sept 1990 before being appointed Chief Executive in 2004.  In December 2013 she retired from this position, and is currently undertaking consultancy work on a part-time basis. Philippa has a BSc in Environmental Science from New University of Ulster and an MBA from Queens University, Belfast.  Prior to working for the BBOWT Philippa worked for Oxfam as a Fundraising Manager (1986 - 1990) and prior to that as a Lecturer at North Down Technical College for BEd classes (Business Education Council).  She was also seconded to the NHS to teach first line management courses at NHS Training Centres. 

She is currently a Director of Wildlife Fundraising Central) Ltd (WFCL) and is a trustee of Garden Organic.   She is a member of Oxfordshire Charity Mentors, which supports leaders of  small and emerging voluntary groups and charities in the county.

Philip Mould OBE- President

Philip Mould has been an amateur enthusiast for wild plants since early childhood, and this deep interest has developed into an ardent commitment to plant conservation. He is a fellow of the Linnaean Society 

His business interests and professional experience in communication are among the strengths he brings to Plantlife International as a Trustee. He is one of the country’s foremost authorities on British portraiture, and has a West End gallery specialising in the subject. For twenty years he was art adviser to the House of Commons and Lords.

Philip has published on art-related subjects and is the author of 'SLEUTH: The Amazinq Quest for Lost Art Treasures', and ‘Sleepers: In Search of Lost Old Masters’. He is also a regular broadcaster, reviewer and writer for the national press. His television work includes writing and presenting the Channel 4 series Changing Faces, and co-presenting BBC1’s prime-time art discovery programme, Fake or Fortune?, which will be returning in 2015. He is also a regular expert on The Antiques Show

Dr David Parker

Dr David Parker is an independent consultant ecologist based in north-west England, dividing his time between consultancy commissions and working for the voluntary sector.

David has a life-long interest in plants and natural history in general. He joined Plantlife as a Founder and Life Member and has followed the development of the organisation with great interest.  He joined the BSBI in the 1970s and studied the ecology and taxonomy of mountain saxifrages for his PhD.

David worked from 1998-2013 for the Countryside Council for Wales, a public body responsible for the stewardship of the wildlife and landscapes of Wales.  CCW was merged into a new single body, Natural Resources Wales, in 2013.  As CCW’s Chief Scientist , he was responsible for biodiversity policy, designated sites and advising Government on the ecosystem approach to manage Welsh land and seas.  Whilst working for CCW, David helped to develop an active CCW/Plantlife partnership which led to the appointment of a Welsh Officer and Lower Plant Development Officer for Plantlife, as well as programme funding for these posts.

David is currently a trustee of the British Trust for Ornithology, Landlife, Natur Cymru, and Eurosite, Chair of the Dee Estuary Conservation Group, and a member of the Natural Environment Panel of the National Trust.   He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (FCIEEM), and was its President from 1998-2000. He also finds time to be a field naturalist and has been a WeBS (Wetland Bird Survey) recorder on the Dee Estuary for 36 years and is a volunteer for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme.


Robin Payne

Robin Payne is a freelance ecologist based in Perthshire, Scotland.

Between 1983 and 2012 Robin worked for Scottish Natural Heritage and its predecessor the Nature Conservancy Council in a variety of roles, more recently as SNH’s flowering plant specialist and leading SNH’s work on invasive non-native species. As a plant specialist Robin helped to develop a coordinated approach to plant conservation in Scotland by Plantlife, the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

At university in Wales Robin worked on Wavy St John’s Wort (Hypericum undulatum) and this led on to a career in plant and habitat conservation both in the UK, Africa and Australia. Based in Scottish Borders through the 1990s Robin worked closely with river and fishery interests to develop habitat management on the River Tweed. As a Chartered Environmentalist, Robin’s freelance work now focusses on native plant surveys and the impact of non-native plants along with training and writing guidance material. Robin is currently helping to develop approaches to managing invasive plants threatening the flora of East Iceland.

A county childhood helped give Robin a lifelong interest in the environment. An active member of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Robin is a member of the BSBI Council of the, Robin is chairs the BSBI Committee for Scotland and is the joint vice-county plant recorder for the county of Angus.

Helen Priday

Helen's career in marketing and management started in book publishing. She went on to join News International as Marketing Director at The Times, where she launched a number of initiatives, including The Times Higher Engineering Awards, The TLS Translation Awards and the TES Environment Award.

Since starting her own consultancy, HP:M, Helen has worked on a wide range of projects from the launches of Vitality: The Healthy Living Show to The Daily Telegraph/House & Garden Fair (where she was responsible for the feature gardens). She has also been involved recently in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative for schools with the Royal Society of Arts and the Institute of Philanthropy.

Helen has a lifelong passion for plants, both through gardening and particularly as they grow in the wild. She hopes to be able to use her communications experience to get Plantlife's campaigns and initiatives more recognition.


Tim Stowe

Tim Stowe is a passionate conservationist and wildlife enthusiast, and since 2009 has been the Director of International Operations at the RSPB.

Tim started his career working as a scientist for the RSPB, where he studied, among other things the management of Welsh sessile oakwoods (gaining a PhD in the process), and ecology of corncrakes in the unimproved meadows of the Outer Hebrides – work that eventually led to the conservation interventions that produced a trebling of the UK population. 

Between 1991 and 1997 Tim led the RSPB’s North Scotland operations based in Inverness, where he recalls one of his first tasks was to try to prevent the planting of non-native trees on peatland at Munsary.  Maintaining his links with the devolved countries, Tim moved to Cardiff in 1997 as the RSPB’s Director Wales, arriving just ahead of the advent of devolution, and where he was able to develop RSPB Cymru’s work in a Wales starting to be governed by the National Assembly.  Tim served on Government Stakeholder Groups such as Farming Futures/Future of Farming, DEFRA Common Land, Sustainable Development Indicators, the Wales Environment Strategy, and the Woodland Strategy Advisory Panel.   He was a founder Director of Cynnal Cymru, the Sustainable Development Forum for Wales and a Trustee of Wales Council for Voluntary Action.  

The appointment as Director of International Operations in 2009 allowed Tim to continue the work on capacity development within the BirdLife International Partnership (of 120 civil society national conservation organisations around the world), where his team support partners in 24 countries (in Europe, Asia, Africa) as well as in 9 of the 14 UK Overseas Territories.  Other projects include the restoration of over 170000ha of tropical rain forest.  

Tim is a keen hill walker, and an occasional runner, and has lost none of his childhood enthusiasm for nature’s wonders.

Frances Watkins - Vice Chair

Frances Watkins read mathematics at Newcastle University. She has worked in software development, as a mathematics teacher and as a full-time mother.

Frances has always been interested in plants and has been a keen field botanist ever since she can remember. She is a member of the Ashmolean Natural History Society of Oxfordshire and served as its president for three years.

She is a member of the editorial board of its journal Fritillary, and chairman of its Education Group. The EG runs classes in rigorous plant identification and related subjects. The basic plant identification course started in 2001 and to the group's surprise has been in heavy demand ever since.

She is an active member of the ANHSO’s Rare Plants Group. She also does botanical survey work and is an active member of an informal but very keen bryophyte identification group.