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Our trustees

Rewilding Britain is a charity governed by a board of trustees. Our trustees delegate responsibilities to ensure that the organisation is well run and that we’re making the best use of funds towards achieving our charitable objective of making rewilding a reality across Britain.

Yellowhammer BP

Rewilding Britain Board of Trustees

The board delegates day-to-day responsibilities of the Chief Executive and staff. They meet on a quarterly basis to discuss and approve strategy, review finances and ensure legal compliance.

The present board comprises of:

Carlo Laurenzi

Carlo was recently chief executive for the London Wildlife Trust. He has a life-long passion for natural history and the great outdoors.

He has 30 years experience working for the not for profit sector, including co-founding Hostage UK with Terry Waite. He currently sits on their board.

He gained an OBE in recognition of his work with British Prisoners held abroad. He’s held numerous advisory roles for government departments including the Department of Work and Pensions and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

He currently advises DEFRA. His other interests include trekking, foraging and cycling.

Charlie Burrell

Charlie studied Advanced Farm Management at Cirencester Agricultural College. 

Upon inheriting Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex from his grandparents in 1987 he threw his energy into the farm business yet despite intensifying and diversifying, farming on the heavy Sussex clay remained unprofitable. His damascene conversion to rewilding began after meeting the visionary Dutch ecologist Frans Vera.

All 3,500 acres of the Knepp Estate are now devoted to a process-led rewilding project involving free-roaming herds of cattle, horses, pigs and deer as the drivers of habitat creation. The results have been spectacular. Since its inception in 2001, numerous Red Data species like lesser spotted woodpeckers, long-eared owls and ravens have returned to Knepp and populations of common species are rocketing. 

Knepp Wildland is now a breeding hotspot for endangered turtle doves, nightingales and purple emperor butterflies. Knepp Wildland’s Advisory Board comprises 22 eminent ecologists and conservationists, including Frans Vera.

Elaine Gilligan

Elaine is Head of Programmes at Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and NI). 

I’ve grown up with Friends of the Earth. Starting out as a volunteer at University to now sitting on the Board of Friends of the Earth International, I’ve been on an amazing local to global journey with Friends of the Earth. My passion and roots are in grassroots campaigning having led our activism work for many years. I have set up and led major programmes of work on climate, nature and resources. Currently I am leading our nature, food and framing work and looking at what the implications of Brexit mean for our future. I have a wealth of experience and insights to offer and am looking forward to supporting Rewilding Britain in pioneering a new approach to nature restoration.

George Levvy (Chair)

George joined the board of Rewilding Britain to apply the skills he has acquired in over thirty years in management, leadership and consultancy to the cause about which he cares most.

originally from Aberdeen, his career has spanned the public, commercial and voluntary sectors. Having begun working life as a doctor, he changed course to go into management. After six years in commercial companies in Japan and the UK, he joined the voluntary sector as Head of Marketing & Communications at the British Red Cross.

For ten years from 1995 George was chief executive of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, leading it through a period of rapid growth and change, since when he has consulted on strategy, leadership, governance and change for organisations in all sectors.

Joanne Smithson

Joanne is currently Director of People & Resources at the Institute of Fundraising. She was previously CEO of an international youth volunteering charity and Director of Services at a large multi-national education services charity.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector, Jo has particular expertise and interest in organisational design and change management, governance and compliance, and people development. 

Julian Purvis (Treasurer)

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant Julian was entrusted with the Woodland Trust’s finances in his mid 20s, where he went on to spend most of his career as Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Services.

Since then, Julian has been Finance Director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (201318) and is currently a trustee of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and Lincoln City Foundation. He has been involved in habitat conservation work in the UK since 1984.

Two trips to the Białowieża Forest in Poland awakened a passion for woodland with an accumulation of deadwood and the much wider range of species this supports. The sense of the natural lifecycle of a woodland that can be experienced there is something that he would love to see emulated in the UK.

Julian lives in what he describes as a green oasis in an arable desert”, on the edge of the Lincolnshire fens.

Toby Aykroyd

Toby coordinates the Wild Europe initiative, is Vice Chairman of the Wilderness Foundation and Trustee of the European Nature Trust and Fundatia Conservation Carpathia (Romania).

With a background in economics, business management, forestry and political lobbying, Toby has been fully involved in conservation work since 2002

Other roles have included: Trustee and Chairman of the Funding Support Group for the BBC Wildlife Fund, which financed 87 conservation projects worldwide. Co-founder of the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative, under contract to the UK government to develop national standards for SME business management. Director of the Association of Independence Businesses. Initially with the United Nations Development Programme in Central America.

Toby undertook the Wild Britain consultation and promotion exercise on rewilding in 2004-06, with initiatives including a report on wild area socio-economic benefits through Scottish Natural Heritage, and a forum for beaver reintroduction in Wales.


Main image: Yellowhammer — Ben Porter