The BirdLife International Global Council
The BirdLife Global Council is BirdLife’s democratically elected governing body, with members from each of BirdLife’s six regions, executives of Partner organisations in those regions, chosen by the entire group of BirdLife Partner directors.
Dr Mike Rands
Dr Mike Rands is an environmental scientist, conservationist and ornithologist with a doctorate in ecology from the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, University of Oxford and an Honorary Doctorate in Science from the University of East Anglia. Following an early career as a research scientist with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust in the UK, he joined the International Council for Bird Preservation as Programme Director in 1986 where he played a leading role in creating BirdLife International and became its Chief Executive from 1996 to 2009.
In 2009 Mike was appointed as the founding Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) at the University of Cambridge. CCI is a collaboration between the University and a cluster of conservation NGOs, including BirdLife International and RSPB. He led the creation of the Cambridge Conservation Campus within the flagship David Attenborough Building, which opened in 2013 and has become the Headquarters of the BirdLife Secretariat in Cambridge.
Mike is currently the Master of Darwin College and a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, a Visiting Fellow at the Cambridge Judge Business School, and a Trustee of Conservation International UK. He has a life-long passion for birds and biodiversity, and for the application of research to create innovative solutions for the conservation of the natural world.
Martin Birch – Treasurer
Martin Birch is Treasurer of BirdLife International, appointed in May 2022.
He trained as a chartered management accountant while working in financial services for several years before joining the voluntary sector in 1992, first working with ActionAid, now the Chief Operating Officer of Christian Aid, with responsibility for the running of critical support functions including Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology.
He is a keen birder and has also held voluntary positions elsewhere: treasurer of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and chair of ACRE (Access to Capital for Rural Enterprises), a partnership of development charities developing new forms of finance for investment-ready businesses in developing countries.
Martin brings a wealth of experience to BirdLife with expertise in strategy, performance and accountability work and organisational development function, with extensive knowledge of the regulatory compliance in the UK and elsewhere.
Sheku Kamara (Sierra Leone)
Dr. Sheku Kamara holds a B.Sc degree with Honours in Botany from the University of Sierra Leone. In 2003, he completed a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Technology at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands. In 2008, he graduated with a Ph.D in Environmental Ecology from the Humboldt University in Berlin.
He served as a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences until his appointment as Executive Director of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) in January 2015. Prior to that, he was the Secretary of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone where he served for 4 years. Since 2013, he is the National Coordinator of the civil peace service programme of Bread for the World in Sierra Leone.
He also served as Chair of the Council of Africa Partnership from 2019 to August 2022. He has a great passion for nature.
Vikash Tatayah (Mauritius)
Dr Vikash Tatayah, Conservation Director and Assistant Treasurer of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, has been active in conservation for over 25 years. He is also the co-chair of the IUCN Mascarene Island Plant Specialist Group and member of several other Specialist Groups. He is proudly Mauritian. He trained in agriculture before joining conservation. He has conducted a doctoral study on the Round Island Petrel (Pterodroma arminjoniana), uncovering the first ever recorded three (possibly four) – way vertebrate species hybrid complex in the world.
Vikash manages conservation programmes on Mauritius, Rodrigues and outer islands that have allowed the recovery of a long list of threatened plants and animals. Under his leadership, many new projects and collaborations were set-up e.g. re-introduction of endemic birds on Ile aux Aigrettes, Ebony Forest, Bel Ombre, Black River Gorges National Park (e.g. Petrin, Lower Black River Gorges), re-introduction of seabirds to Ile aux Aigrettes, introduction of analogue tortoises to Ile aux Aigrettes, Round Island and Grande Montagne (Rodrigues), re-introduction and attraction of seabirds to Ile aux Aigrettes, captive breeding of several species (Mauritius Fody, Mauritius Olive White-eye, Mauritius Cuckoo-shrike), re-launch of red-listing of plants of Mauritius and Rodrigues, setting up of a field station on Round Island, developing a management plan on St Brandon. Several bird, reptile and plant projects we also consolidated. He has been very active in setting-up a Human-Mauritius Fruit Bat conflict resolution project.
Khadija Bourass (Morocco)
Biologist, ecologist, conservationist, and volunteer is how best to describe the professional background of Khadija Bourass.
Holder of a master’s degree in structure and dynamics of ecosystems and biodiversity conservation, and a PhD in animal ecology with a specialty in behaviour and diet of an endangered bird species.
Since 2016, she is the Executive Director of the Research Group for the Protection of Birds in Morocco (GREPOM), the Moroccan partner of BirdLife International. She manages and oversees conservation programs and projects carried out by the association. In a nutshell, GREPOM works for the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in Morocco in a framework of sustainable development. And it’s considered as the reference number one in bird and wetland conservation in the country.
Convinced that it is only by working together that we can improve things and demonstrate that we are part of a global community that cherishes the diversity of life, respects differences and is able to put aside its selfishness for the common good.
Amanda Acosta – (Belize)
Amanda Acosta is the Executive Director of Belize Audubon Society (BAS). She has been a part of the Belize Audubon Society family in this capacity since December 2010. BAS is a non-governmental, membership organization dedicated to the sustainable management of our natural resources through leadership and strategic partnerships with stakeholders to create a balance between people and the environment. BAS is responsible for the co-management of seven national protected areas across Belize.
Growing up in Belize and having the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of Belize’s rivers, Mayan sites, lush rain forest and jewel toned sea; Amanda is an advocate for wise management of Belize’s Natural Resources, for current and future generations. She came to the BAS after teaching at the University of Belize within the Department of Science. Acosta first came the BAS as the Advocacy Manager in 2008. Acosta holds a Master of Science from Nova Southeastern University, Florida and a Bachelor of Science from College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina.
Amanda lives in Belize City with her husband, daughter, and son.
Andrew Couturier – (Canada)
Mr. Andrew Couturier is Senior Director, Landscape Science and Conservation with Birds Canada. Andrew has been actively engaged in BirdLife International for more than two decades. In 2004, he participated in BirdLife’s Building on Experience programme and in 2013 he helped to plan the thematic sessions for the BirdLife World Congress in Ottawa. Mr. Couturier has served on the Executive Regional Council for the Americas since 2018. As lead for the Key Biodiversity Areas initiative in Canada, Andrew’s team is rolling out one of BirdLife’s flagship initiatives across the country.
Mr. Couturier’s leadership in bird conservation is wide ranging and includes pioneering work in The State of Canada’s Birds, The State of North America’s Birds, Ornithological Atlases, Partners in Flight (for which he received a Leadership Award), the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, and others. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society in 2018 and received Radio-Canada’s Scientist of the Year Award for 2019 for his contribution to the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Southern Quebec.
Andrew is very pleased to support BirdLife’s ambitious agenda through Global Council.
Rodrigo. W. Soria-Auza (Bolivia)
Rodrigo W. Soria-Auza is a Bolivian biologist and committed conservationist. He began volunteering for diverse conservation and environmental education projects with school children as he was doing his undergraduate studies of biology at the University Mayor de San Simón of Cochabamba. After completing his “licenciatura” in biology (December 2002), he moved to the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia, to work at Asociación Armonía. During this time he learned a lot about bird conservation in Bolivia, and developed a true passion for bird conservation.
In September 2005, he left Bolivia to continue his academic carrier. He attended to the University of Goettingen in Germany, where he earned his PhD in Biodiversity and Ecology (September 2009) and then continued with a postdoc research at the same university.
In July 2011 Rodrigo returned to Bolivia to work as the director of conservation programs of Armonía. Rodrigo is committed to prevent extinctions and recovering populations of threatened species through protection and management of habitat on private, indigenous community lands and protected areas, policy changes to reduce threats, and by working with stakeholders, communities and researchers to affect positive change for conservation.
In August 2017 Rodrigo became Executive Director of Asociación Armonía.
Dian Agista (Indonesia)
Dian Agista is a nature conservation practitioner with technical expertise in wildlife ecology, community development, and climate change adaptation. He began his professional career in 1998 as a birding guide. He joined the BirdLife International Indonesia Programme in February 1999 as a field assistant. He then became Burung Indonesia staff when the organization was established in July 2002. He has held various positions since then; ranging from programmes officer/ coordinator/manager to head of department in June 2008, then becoming Managing Director in November 2016, and finally Executive Director since July 2017.
Among the achievements he’s proudest of:
- Successfully lead Sumba Program in 2004-2007 when the programme executed seven projects funded by seven donors, amounted in total equivalent 1 million USD (as Sumba Programme Coordinator),
- Successfully lead implementation of an equivalent 10 million USD grant entitled ‘Danida Support to Harapan Rainforest’ in 2011-2016, funded by Danish Government (as Task Team Manager for Ecosystem Restoration Concession),
- Burung Indonesia obtained Partner status in BirdLife International partnership in 2018 (as Executive Director),
- Establish Burung Indonesia’s reserve fund in 2017 and grow the fund from zero to equivalent 500,000 USD in 2021 (as Executive Director),
- Increase Burung Indonesia’s unrestricted income from 5% in 2017 to 20% in 2021 with steady annual financial turn-over around 2.5 million USD (as Executive Director).
Ishana Thapa (Nepal)
Kjetil Aadne Solbakken (Norway)
Lieven De Schamphelaere (Belgium)
International nature and nature conservation experience
Extensive nature trip experience in Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe (a.o. almost yearly the Baltic States)
Nature trip experience in (Central) Asia a.o. Armenia, Georgia, Kazachstan, Tadjikistan, Mongolia, Russia (a.o. Altai and Kamchatka), Iran, Turkey, Nepal and India
Pelagic nature trip experience (including guiding and lecturing): North-Atlantic (Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, Norway, U.K. and Ireland), Macaronesia, West Coast U.S., Russian Far East and New Zealand
Mika Asikainen (Finland)
I’m a life-long birdwatcher and a keen conservationist. Birds have been my main hobby since I have a Master of Science in Environmental Sciences from Kuopio University in Finland.
I worked for BirdLife Finland as director and development officer for 12 years and was also active in the European Committee of BirdLife International. Since then I have worked for two large organisations in Finland, the Finnish outdoor organization and currently the Finnish Red Cross. Since 2020 I am the chairman of board at BirdLife Finland. I have a long experience in the work of BirdLife on all levels.
Fadi Naim Naser (Jordan)
Fadi Naim Naser Joined RSCN early 2018 as Director of Finance. He was promoted to be the Director General in 2022.
Fadi brings extensive finance and management experience for more than 20 years in diverse industries including NGOs, services, trading, investing, manufacturing, real-estate and property management organizations. He has a proven ability to improve operations, impact business growth and maximize profits through achievements in building strategies, engaging stakeholders, change management, finance management, cost reductions, internal controls and productivity/efficiency improvements.
Fadi started his career with Ernst Young in early 2002 and joined PWC in 2006. He managed different clients in Audit and Consultancy. Fadi left the big 4 firms to join United Development Company (UDC) which is the Master Developer of the Pearl Island in Qatar in 2007, in which he led the Finance and Operations of different subsidiaries for more than 10 years.
Fadi has the experience of providing strategic advice to various clients in different industries to achieve their objectives.
Imad F. Atrash (State of Palestine)
Nunia Thomas-Moko (Fiji)
Nunia Thomas-Moko is a passionate advocate for the conservation of Fiji’s natural heritage and environmental sustainability. In 2007 Nunia joined the newly formed NatureFiji-MareqetiViti – Fiji’s only local membership-based organisation working solely for the conservation and sustainable use of Fiji’s biodiversity. In 2008, the organisation published Nunia’s first project: The Endangered Species of Fiji Compendium, and she has been instrumental in its early years of development. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti has since become the most active terrestrial biodiversity conservation organization in Fiji, responsible for 10 of the 12 active endangered species conservation projects currently being undertaken in Fiji. In 2013 she was appointed Director, a position she currently holds, leading a team of 10 early career professionals in biodiversity conservation, species research and conservation action, advocacy, community engagement and policy contributions.
Nunia has conducted over 40 assessments of Fijian herpetofauna biodiversity, over 12 scientific publications and was a recipient of the 2nd Pacific Islands Environment Leadership Awards in 2020 (National leadership in environmental sustainability & conservation award).
Samantha Vine (Australia)
Samantha Vine is the Head of Conservation and Science at BirdLife Australia. She is a member of the leadership team which has transformed the organisation into a leading nature conservation NGO, doubling its conservation impact. As a department head Samantha manages a diverse portfolio of conservation and research programs, policies and campaigns. Prior to working at BirdLife, Samantha developed and headed WWF Australia’s Flagship Species Program, and was the regional manager for the Threatened Species Network in Eastern and Southern Australia. Samantha worked as a research scientist for the University of Sydney’s Institute of Wildlife Research as well as state and federal government prior to joining the NGO sector.
Samantha was a founding member of the Places You Love Alliance, Australia’s largest alliance of nature conservation organisations and co-convened the original campaign team from its inception. Collectively the alliance has successfully fought off a regressive reform agenda for almost a decade – at the same time bringing together leading academics to develop a Blueprint for Nature and preparing the ground for a new generation of nature laws. Notable appointments also include Federal Ministerial Advisory Committee for the Environment, chair of the 2009 EPBC Act Review NGO working group and member of the Australian Environment Network Steering Committee.
Samantha has almost two decades of experience engaging the community in threatened species conservation. She has a strong history of convening recovery planning forums and building momentum to recover threatened species. Samantha has organised and participated in numerous conferences, recovery teams, stakeholder groups and international delegations. Her focus in recent years is on strategy and leadership to empower people to make transformational change for nature.
Alfred D. Chandler III (US)
Alfred D. “Appy” Chandler grew up in Massachusetts. After graduating from secondary school, Appy spent much of the next twenty years traveling, studying, and working in various parts of the world. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a teaching degree from the Aberdeen (Scotland) College of Education. His professional career has included stints as history teacher, daily newspaper reporter, magazine editor, political lobbyist, public relations consultant, corporate analyst, and film producer.
Appy is active in nonprofits. He has served as an officer and on the board of numerous organizations both in the arts and in conservation. He has a particular expertise in fund-raising. Besides sitting on the BirdLife Global Council, he is currently a trustee at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, engaged in strategic planning for the Museums of New Mexico Foundation and chairs the Winslow Art Trust, an arts and community development non-profit serving Arizona and New Mexico. Appy is also a founding director of Hamilton Distilleries, a privately held corporation in Tucson, AZ, making and selling a variety of American single malt whiskeys and ryes.
Appy and his wife Susan split their time between their homes in Tucson, Santa Fe, and their Great Marsh island on the Massachusetts coast.
John Gregory (UK)
John worked in the Consumer-Packaged Goods industry in the UK and the US for 27 years before retiring in May 2017. Latterly he held the role of Vice President Global Business Services for a global food company based in Michigan. In his earlier career John headed a European Shared Services Operation, had a stint as a European Controller, and was CFO for a European Snacks Business. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant.
John started life training as a Civil and Structural Engineer before switching education to Geographical and Geological Sciences at the University of Manchester. Following his under-graduate degree John undertook post-graduate research into the effects of acid snowmelt on upland ecosystems.
In the background John has been a keen birdwatcher since the age of 12. He has travelled extensively across Latin America, North America, Europe and Africa. But his real passion is for Asia birding and bird conservation. John has spent around a total of three years birdwatching in Asia and is the outgoing Chairman and current Treasurer of the Oriental Bird Club working closely with the Birdlife Partners and other NGOs across the region.
John joined the Birdlife Advisory Group in 2018. He took up the position of Interim Chief Operating Officer for the organisation for 6 months in 2019 and was co-opted onto Council in late 2022. He is also a member of the Birdlife People Committee.
John now occupies his time as a Global Business Services Consultant, as a Trustee Director of a UK Pension Fund and latterly has been involved in a bird-guiding business.. Being from Manchester John is a keen soccer fan and also has a passion for cricket and rugby. He lives with his wife, dog and five chickens in rural Cheshire in the UK.
Beccy Speight (UK)
Beccy became the RSPB’s Chief Executive in August 2019, having previously held the same position at the Woodland Trust. Prior to the Woodland Trust Beccy worked for the National Trust for 14 years, initially as general manager of the Stourhead Estate, then as director for its East Midlands and Midlands regions from 2005.
Previously, Beccy was responsible for leading and championing the National Trust’s work on its sustainable food agenda and she chaired the Food for Life Catering Mark Standards Committee for the Soil Association. She also contributed to national steering groups on contemporary art in the National Trust, its work in the outdoors and engaging urban communities.
Christie Constantine (US)
For more than 20 years, Christie has worked to promote a wide range of social justice and environmental issues across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. She was most recently the Global Director of Sustainability at the global law firm of Baker McKenzie. Prior to that, she was the Creative Director for Virgin Unite, Sir Richard Branson’s charitable foundation in London focused on climate change, conflict resolution, health and education. She has also worked as a refugee advocate with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan. Christie received a BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and also studied printmaking at the Universidad de Costa Rica. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, and Portland, Maine.
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