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

Our Trustees

Simon Acland

Simon Acland

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 Angels, Dragons and Vultures – how to tame your investors… and not lose your company, a guide for entrepreneurs to the world of venture capital. He is also currently a trustee of Young Enterprise London, a charity promoting entrepreneurship in schools, and is a member of many other environmental organisations.

Peter Ainsworth - Chairman

Peter Ainsworth

Peter Ainsworth

Peter was the Member of Parliament for East Surrey for 18 years until he decided to step down at the recent 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 more recently as Shadow Secretary of State of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2005 - 2009. He also chaired the All Parliamentary Groups for the Environment and Sustainable Aviation. 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, and he hosted the launch event for Plantlife’s Ghost Orchid Declaration report – a ‘manifesto for plants’ which calls for action on plant conservation – at the House of Commons in October 2009.

Liz Bilton

Liz Bilton

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.


Philip Mould OBE- President

Philip Mould OBE

Philip Mould OBE

Philip Mould has been an amateur enthusiast for wild plants since early childhood, and this deep interest has developed in recent years into an ardent commitment to plant conservation.

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 and American portraiture, and has a West End gallery specialising in the subject. He has been a valuer for the Heritage Lottery Fund since 1998 and has been official art advisor to the House of Commons and to the House of Lords since 1988.

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 BBC2’s popular prime-time programme The Antiques Show. He is currently filming a new series of 'Fake or Fortune?' to be broadcast on BBC1 later in 2013.


Dr David Parker

Dr David Parker

Dr David Parker

Dr David Parker worked for the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW )until his retirement in 2013.

CCW was 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 Chief Scientist for CCW, David was responsible for biodiversity policy and taking forward work with designated sites and in the wider countryside.

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

He is currently Chair of the National Wildflower Centre in Liverpool where he has been on the Board since its foundation in 1999. He has been on the Board of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Trust since 1998 and has a particular interest in the sharing of data on the distribution of wildlife. He has been involved in the foundation and building of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM), and was 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 almost 30 years.

Whilst working for CCW, David helped to develop an active CCW/Plantlife partnership which has led to the appointment of a Welsh Officer (Trevor Dines) and Lower Plant Development Officer (Ray Woods) for Plantlife, as well as programme funding for these posts.


Robin Payne

Robin Payne

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 Priday

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.


Dr Jan-Willem Sneep

Dr Jan-Willem Sneep

Dr Jan-Willem Sneep

Dr Jan-Willem Sneep is a biologist and studied biology at the University of Utrecht, in particular the flora of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.

Before university, he was a biology teacher at a High School for 16-19 year olds for six years. Since 1980 Jan-Willem has worked at the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality in the Hague and managed several functions in the field of national and international nature policy.

In the 1990s Jan-Willem developed a number of species policies in the Netherlands (for example, species policy plans for badger, otter, butterflies, wall vegetation etc.). Since 1990 he has been involved with international nature policy. Jan-Willem was the Dutch representative at many international Conventions and Agreements such as the Bern Convention (Council of Europe), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on the Conservation of Migratory species (CMS/Bonn Convention), African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS), Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS). In 1994 he received the (first) Golden Butterfly Award.

Until July 2005, Jan-Willem was Head of the International Division of the Department for Nature of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. He developed the International Policy Programme for Biodiversity of the Netherlands 2002-2006 and also organised several international conferences in the field of nature conservation and sustainable biodiversity. Jan-Willem's earliest involvement with Planta Europa was at the first Planta Europa Conference in Hyeres, France in 1995. He facilitated the development of the identification of Important Plant Areas in Europe. Since 2004 Jan-Willem has been Chair of Planta Europa and Chair of the Steering Committee.

Jan-Willem is also Chair of the Committee of Experts for the development of the Pan-European Ecological Network (PEEN) of the Council of Europe. At present he is director of the Dutch National Parks Foundation, which was founded in 2005.

Frances Watkins - Vice Chair

Frances Watkins

Frances Watkins

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.