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      The Arc Must Wear More than a ‘Green Badge’

      Four part Q&A with Rich Stockdale, Managing Director, Oxygen Conservation

      27 Feb 2022 Rich Stockdale, Managing Director, Oxygen Conservation

      1. How did Oxygen Conservation come about, and what is your mission?

      Oxygen Conservation’s purpose is to take forward conservation projects that are commercially viable, generating a positive financial and environmental return on investment. Philanthropy can only take us so far, and as the world is burning there is no time for procrastination. There is no time for fighting: we need to get on with delivering what’s best for the planet.

      We want to x100 the conservation we’re currently undertaking and do what Google did with technology and scale and apply it to climate and environment initiatives. Larry Fink, the CEO of Blackrock, recently wrote that the next 1,000 unicorn companies will be in climate technology, and the opportunity this presents is extraordinary. 

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      Doing the right thing is the foundation upon which we have built our business.

      2. No one ecosystem of local habitat within the UK is the same. How do you work with local stakeholders to identify the most pressing conservation requirements and foster meaningful collaboration?

      We do a lot of listening. ‘Partnership’ within this sector is a buzzword, and in the practice, this can be top-down where landowners will only want their version of events to play out. ‘Partnership’ should mean active engagement, inviting local stakeholders as well as custodians of the environment like natural parks, trusts, and ecological management in to talk about the challenge.

      Experts are drawn into these networks that we create. With good intentions come good people with an intimate knowledge about hyper-local geographies. This in turn creates positive feedback loops where we’ll share opportunities with other conservation groups across the country.

      Be prepared to ask a lot of questions and appreciate that you may be wrong about how to manage any one natural site. The Oxygen Conservation model allows each geography across a mosaic of habitats to do what it does best, while communicating with local groups to maximise the natural capital mix we administer.

      3. The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is our opportunity to create a standard-bearer for decarbonisation, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and genuine conservation. How can your experience and approach be applied to the 'Green' Arc?

      The reason why our partners want to work with Oxygen Conservation is that we are authentic, true, and complete in our approach. When we say we care, we need to be absolutely consistent in what we say is appropriate for any local environment, especially as people are so acutely aware of greenwashing. 

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      4. What are the greatest challenges from a conservation perspective, and how can the products Oxygen Conservation is creating be easily adopted across the Arc?

      People find the concept of ‘environment’ challenging, daunting, and they want simplicity. There’s a lot of contradictory information and a lot of snake oil salesman, while others pedalling ‘decarbonisation’ do so to profit financially. Misinformation is readily apparent in the case of carbon credits associated with hydropower systems, which are sold as a positive thing despite destroying river habitats. Even the most well-intentioned people can find it hard to do the right thing.

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