the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Interview, Mandy Rudd

Mandy Rudd, GiGL CEO

GiGL’s Board of Directors are central to our work and our success. Their commitment and expertise helps guide GiGL and keeps us moving forward and developing. Directors are on the front line of biodiversity and open space work in the capital. They are GiGL service users and contribute to our data banks, as well as serving as ambassadors for GiGL.

Mandy Rudd is GiGL CEO and a Board member. She has previously held a number of roles at GiGL, from its early days as the Biological Recording Project and has guided the growth of the organisation to its current position as a fully fledged, independent records centre and community interest company with seven staff members.

mandy

Portrait of a young naturalist at work

Town or countryside?

A city by the beach. But if I can only have one, the beach.

Summer or winter?

Sunny days in any season.

Early bird or night owl?

Becoming an earlier bird.

Outdoor or indoors?

Outdoors.

Plants or animals?

Animals.

What species is closest to your heart and why?

Stag beetles are up there. One of the first tasks I undertook for London Wildlife Trust was to map their 1997 stag beetle survey results on photocopied pages from the A-Z using a red felt-tipped pen. The work piqued my interest in the creatures themselves, and in the power of the data once my hand drawn maps were digitised in GIS.

What is your favourite Greater London open space and why?

The River Thames because it offers a sense of space and connection to the city. And there’s a beach.

What has been your most formative experience working with the natural environment? What did you learn then that you keep with you today?

It was a family tradition to walk in the New Forest every Sunday when I was growing up. My Dad always marched ahead with the dogs, but Mum encouraged my Brother’s and my curiosity. She often brought a wildlife ID book along with her so she could help us find an answer when we asked “wassat?” from high up in the baby carrier or low down at toddling level. My appreciation of the natural environment and the way it makes me feel has grown ever since, but my ID skills are approximately the same as when I was three.

How long have you worked for GiGL and how has your role changed in that time?

Nineteen and a half years. I was taken on as an assistant for the Biological Recording Project and when Alistair Kirk, the project’s first manager, left in 1999, my role changed. It continued to change as the records centre grew, from officer to manager, then director and for the last four years, CEO.

What is your most enjoyable GiGL task and why?

Working with and learning from the bright team of women that challenge the techy data-nerd stereotype in so many brilliant ways. None of our partners and clients are obliged to work with us, so the steady increase in the number of clients and partners we’ve kept on board despite the horrendous cuts in their various sectors, is testament to the relationships we’ve developed. These relationships are vital to our business but often overlooked.

What are the greatest differences in the challenges now facing London’s biodiversity, compared with when you joined GiGL? How can GiGL help?

The London Biodiversity Partnership was a couple of years old by the time I started working with the Biological Recording Project. It was a strong partnership that encouraged collaboration and pooling of resources and expertise, with a strong focus on nature for nature’s sake. The withdrawal of funding, and the national declaration that the Biodiversity Action Plan was dead, changed everything. I’m keen that GiGL has a place at the table with our key partners, and that we all work to bring back the energy of partnership working.

London has a lot to offer someone looking to learn more about wildlife and open spaces. What one thing would you advise people to explore?

I’d encourage anyone to explore membership of the many organisations that we work with and who offer opportunities to get involved with nature conservation and recording. London is blessed with some incredible experts who are keen to share their knowledge and skills.

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