Endangered Landscapes Programme announces new chair of Oversight and Selection Panel

Posted: 18th July 2023

Photo: Gavin Holder

The Endangered Landscapes Programme is delighted to announce a new chair of our Oversight and Selection Panel, Angelo Salsi, succeeding Professor Sir John Lawton. Prior to his retirement in 2022, Angelo spent 29 years on the front-line of conservation, helping EU member states to protect Europe’s environment and natural heritage and supporting the EU’s efforts in the battle against climate change. 

Angelo studied agricultural sciences at the University of Bologna and started his career as an agro-meteorologist. In 1994 he joined the European Commission, in the Nature Conservation department of the Directorate General for Environment. In 2000 he was appointed deputy head of “The LIFE Unit” – which had responsibility for managing the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. Angelo continued his career as manager of the LIFE program until he reached the position of Head of the Department “Natural resource, climate, sustainable blue economy and clean energy” in the Executive Agency for Climate, Environment and Infrastructures (CINEA).

LIFE has been the central theme of Angelo’s career in the EU. He has seen and evaluated thousands of proposals and he followed the implementation of more than 5000 projects across the EU. His work, together with many other EU officials, has been key in helping LIFE to grow from a rather small program to a mature instrument with a budget of more than 5 billion euros.

Angelo Salsi has spent 29 years on the front-line of conservation in Europe.

Angelo loved his work, but he still found time to play guitar, dive and travel whenever possible, and, of course, he spent all the time possible with his two boys and wife.

Angelo said: I am deeply grateful to the Endangered Landscapes Programme for offering me this opportunity. A great responsibility, but also an opportunity to help shaping a unique programme that has already achieved a lot in so few years. I would like to express my profound gratitude to Sir John Lawton who has been our chair for so many years. I will do my best to continue the great work he did. Thank you John!

Angelo Salsi’s appointment as the Oversight and Selection Panel Chair will succeed Professor Sir John Lawton, who has been chairing the panel since the programme’s onset in 2017. During this time, the Oversight and Selection Panel has overseen the allocation of nearly $60 million of grant funding for restoration, supporting ambitious and inspirational restoration projects from the steppes of Georgia to the Highlands of Scotland.

Professor Sir John Lawton is an eminent British ecologist, President of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and a Vice President of the RSPB. Throughout his distinguished career, Sir John has held a number of pivotal roles, including Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council for 6 years.

Sir John has been chair of the Oversight and Selection Panel since the programme’s inception in 2017. Photo: Daria Buryakina.

Sir John has played a major part in promoting UK-wide wildlife conservation, leading the ‘Lawton Review’ of the resilience and adequacy of England’s wildlife sites. The review’s report, Making Space for Nature, was published in 2010. Concluding that England’s ecological network is too small and isolated, the review called for better protection of England’s wildlife and the establishment of new Ecological Restoration Zones. The report continues to inform policy today. Sir John has recently written a “not too serious”, yet “accurate and informative” book titled “Inn Search of Birds: Pubs, People and Places”, exploring birds on pub signs and in pub names, including their natural histories, folk-histories, and the memories that pub birds have evoked over a birding lifetime.

Sir John said: It has been a very great privilege and pleasure to chair the Endangered Landscapes Programme since its inception, and I am personally extremely grateful to Lisbet Rausing, Peter Baldwin and Arcadia for their vision and financial support, and to the skilled and dedicated members of the OSP for their time, effort, advice and friendship. At a time when the environment is under increasing pressure, the positive difference that the ELP is making fills me with hope.

Photo: David Morris.

The Endangered Landscapes Programme’s Oversight and Selection Panel is responsible for recommending which projects should receive ELP grants by independently applying the programme’s criteria and providing guidance and oversight in relation to the programme’s overall implementation and strategy.

Dr David Thomas, Director of the Endangered Landscapes Programme said: The Endangered Landscapes Programme relies heavily on its panel of independent experts. We are indebted to John’s contribution as chair over the past 6 years, during which time he has applied his considerable experience and ecological expertise. As John steps down it is reassuring to know that the chairing of the panel is in Angelo’s equally expert hands, and we know that the programme will continue to benefit from his knowledge of nature conservation in Europe.

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