Ed-Walker - still

A new Executive Director for A Rocha International

A Rocha International looks forward to welcoming Ed Walker MBE as our new Executive Director on 1 September! Following an extensive global search, our trustees were unanimous in their decision to appoint Ed, confident he is God’s person to lead us into the next season. Chair of Trustees Soohwan Park says, 

‘Ed is a man of integrity, compassion and vision. He is someone who courageously obeys God’s call to respond to crisis and is stepping into the calling to lead A Rocha as we play our part to address the environmental crises facing us. We are grateful God has brought us a leader of his character and calibre.’ 

Having founded and, for 13 years, led the multi-award-winning homeless charity, Hope into Action, Ed has a strong track record of developing organizations and teams. In his previous work of disaster relief with Tearfund he spent ten years in war zones, including three and a half in Darfur, where he witnessed first-hand the horror of an ‘environmental-degradation war’. As an amateur ornithologist, trained mountain leader, PADI scuba diver and sea-kayaker, he loves God’s creation and believes wholeheartedly in A Rocha’s mission and vision. 

Ed says, ‘It is a huge honour to have been appointed in this role for A Rocha International.  

A Rocha is at once both an amazing story and also thousands of individual and very personal stories. I recognize the courage, hard work and inspiration from many who have gone before.  

A Rocha’s work is so close to God’s heart: the environment, poverty, simple living, speaking out, justice, community, theology, education and science are all intrinsically interwoven with the command of Jesus to “preach Good News to all creation”.’

Please keep Ed and the whole A Rocha family in your prayers, and join us in giving Ed a warm welcome in September. 

Beaver_top story

Following the beaver tracks

In 15 years of working in the Vallée des Baux, A Rocha France had seen signs of the European Beaver Castor fiber, but was never able to observe it. When the team recently came across fresh beaver tracks, they were determined to find this elusive creature.  

In France, the beaver is a nationally protected semi-aquatic mammal. It has long been hunted for its fur and flesh, to the point of becoming extremely rare. The destruction or modification of beaver habitat by building dams and urbanizing banks has caused further population regression. Today, thanks to actions to reintroduce, observe and protect the species and its environment, the beaver population in France is gradually increasing. 

Beavers are nocturnal, so it can be difficult to catch sight of them. Traces left behind alert us to their presence, like gnawed trees and pruned stumps after feeding on soft wood. After noticing beaver tracks, the Vallée des Baux team set up two photo traps. At first they only caught footage of birds and empty marshes. Finally after two weeks: success! 

Night-time footage revealed a beaver feasting on wood for nearly an hour. In only five minutes, it felled a tree and then got to work on smaller branches, using its dexterous paws and large incisors. 

Beaver activity – felling trees and building dams – creates favourable habitat for a variety of other species: insects that live in the wood become food for other species. Some birds nest on top of beaver lodges, and inside there is habitat for other creatures like voles and amphibians. Beaver ponds also improve water quality and support riparian zones that help mitigate the effects of climate change. We can learn a lot from this ‘engineering species’ which transforms its environment in a way that benefits the whole ecosystem, and we are thrilled to have them as co-labourers in preserving the Vallée des Baux.  

You can see the remote footage of the Vallée des Baux beaver in A Rocha France’s video: 

Swiss dry meadows - ARCH

A decade’s work makes an impact on Swiss dry meadows

Looking at images of Switzerland on tourism websites and chocolate boxes, you’d be forgiven in assuming wildlife was flourishing in this idyllically beautiful part of the world. Sadly, it’s not the case. Dry meadows – which are habitat for more than 30% of the country’s living species, including flowers, grasshoppers, butterflies, reptiles and birds – have reduced by 90% since 1950 due to intensive agriculture, urbanization and scrub encroachment. 

For the past ten years, A Rocha Switzerland has supported farmers and other landowners and operators to manage the meadows in a way that protects biodiversity. Last year alone, A Rocha ran 12 ‘nature action days’ during which 107 volunteers removed invasive plants, cleared bushes and helped the farmers make their land more suitable for sensitive species. In addition, they carried out inventories of Lepidoptera (butterflies), Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) and flora on 11 parcels of dry meadow habitat. They logged a total of 71 species of Lepidoptera – including 16 on the Swiss Red List of threatened species – and 29 species of Orthoptera, including 12 on the Swiss Red List. The scientific reports and inventory data have been shared with the cantons and the Swiss fauna mapping centre.   

Ursula Peutot, A Rocha Switzerland’s Executive Director says, ‘We believe that the work we do in the dry meadows is very important. Not many nature conservation organizations focus on this area, and it is important to biodiversity in Switzerland. The work we do with the farmers and the contact with them is also key, that they may get practical help for preserving nature and not just feel like they are the ones made responsible for biodiversity loss when it is our global society that has taken them there.’