Monday, 12 October 2020

Black2Nature & me

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Avalon 2015
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

I am President of an organisation I set up called Black2Nature, which I set up when I was 14 years old and is Visible Minority Ethnic (VME) led.  We campaign for equal access to nature for all but concentrate on VME communities who are currently excluded from the countryside. We run nature camps,  arrange nature activities, organise race equality in nature conferences and campaign to make the nature conservation and environmental sectors ethnically diverse.

If you are able to donate money to us or you are able to volunteer for the nature camps or helping behind the scenes please contact

I have organised twelve nature camps for inner-city almost all VME children and teenagers, getting them engaged with nature by making it relevant to them and having plenty of VME role models. The most popular sessions are those where the young people can get close up to wildlife like bird ringing, mothing and even bio blitzes. The young people are all individuals and so, as such, like different sessions. The camp for teenagers is called Camp Avalon and is 2 nights and takes place on the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury. The camp for primary age children is called Camp Chew and is for 1 night and takes place in Compton Martin in the Chew Valley. Other activities are birding, nature sketching, nature photography, making nest boxes, looking for Nightjar, bats, mammal traps and camera traps.

In 2020, we were due to have two camps for teenagers held in partnership with the RSPB funding them and helping with volunteers. However, due to covid, these could not take place but we did hold two one day nature events for families including nature activities like birding ringing and birding, as well as having halal fish and chips in our local pub and ice creams at Chew Valley Lake. These parts of the day are very important as families are very badly impacted by covid and so treats that they can't afford are an important part of the enjoyment of the day.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Avalon 2015
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig bird ringing & holding a Marsh Tit
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

We ensure the young people attending our camps come from a variety of backgrounds including different VME backgrounds and religions, some White British young people from areas of deprivation within the city as well as a few from affluent backgrounds in the countryside where they have little contact with VME young people with strong customs faiths. It is really important for community cohesion for the young people to mix together and spend time with people they do not normally get time with, to break down barriers and reduce radicalisation on all sides.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Chew 2017
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Chew 2017
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

After my first nature camp in 2015, I wrote to the CEO's of the four biggest nature conservation NGO's starting a conversation about the lack of diversity in their organisations, whether Trustees, staff, volunteers or members. I had a positive response from them but I decided that due to school I needed to meet them all together and save time!

The Natural England's Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) Report March 2019 looked at how often children visited green spaces. 73% of none-VME children visited frequently, which drops to 57 % for VME. 75% of children from higher socio-economic groups (A & B) visited frequently whilst 65% for lower socioeconomic groups (C & D). Therefore, clearly, race and ethnicity have a larger impact than poverty, although this does have an impact.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Camp Avalon 2016 
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

I have interviewed VME elders about their lives growing up “back home”. All talked about their rural childhoods, swimming, being out in nature and helping on family smallholdings. However, their grandchildren’s generation mistakenly thinks their heritage is urban, however, we can still engage them by referring back to their country of ethnic origin.

83% of British people live in cities, with a disproportionate number of VME living in bleak inner cities. NGO's must, therefore, start to communicate with people from all ethnicities and backgrounds. The starting point is for their HR, IT and Finance teams to become ethnically diverse, which leads to improved performance.

Therefore, these discussions led me to organise a conference in June 2016, called Race Equality in Nature Conference kindly sponsored by Bristol Zoo which I opened and then with the Key Speakers being Bill Oddie, Kerry McCarthy, Stephen Moss, Dr Richard Benwell, Monira Ahmed Chowdhury, Rachel De Garang & Jini Reddy and lots of experts in race equality, diversity and inclusion. Those who were there commented that it was the first time that those working in conservation had met and discussed the issues with those from BME communities or experts in racism. We had workshops on what were the barriers to VME people getting out into nature, what could be done to overcome the hurdles and creating VME role models.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig with Bill Oddie at Race Equality in Nature Conference 2016
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Young Scots at Race Equality in Nature Conference 2016
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

Since 2015, I have been leading the campaign to make the environmental sector diverse. Of environmental professions, only 0.6% are VME the second-worst sector for diversity after only agricultural ownership. I have had meetings with many of the leaders of conservation organisations, speaking at conferences and writing on the topic. This is an article that I wrote for the Chartered Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management. I was also the Minister for Diversity in Conservation in Chris Packham's People's Manifesto for Wildlife and was the first speaker at his People's Walk for Wildlife

I and Black2Nature organised another conference with Emmanuel Adukwu at UWE Bristol which took place on 2nd October 2019 called Race Equality in Nature: The Next Gen 13-30. As set out above and would like to invite you to take part. The speakers including Asher Craig (Bristol Deputy Mayor), Cleo Lake (Bristol councillor for the Green Party),  Zakiya McKenzie (Black & Green Ambassador), Lara Lemi (Bristol University STEM student and organiser of BMEinSTEM Conference, Chris Packham (Nature presenter), Stephen Corry (CEO Survival International) and Becky Speight (CEO RSPB)

The aim of the conference was to work through the journey of a VME young person, highlighting the racism within the sector that needed to be addressed.

Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig at Youth Strikes 2019 
Photograph copyright young birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

We expect half of those attending will be in senior roles in the nature conservation & environment sector, nature media and environmental education with the other half being BME educators, conservationists & environmentalists and experts in race, diversity & inclusion as well as BME communities.


Camp Avalon


About the Author

Young environmentalist and birder Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig 
Copyright Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

17-year-old young British Bangladeshi Dr Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl from the Chew Valley near Bristol is a prominent birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, race activist, writer, speaker and broadcaster, writing the Birdgirl Blog since January 2014 when she was 11 years old, which is extremely popular with both adults and children and now has over 4 million views. She has travelled all her life, visiting all seven continents when she was 13 years old, giving her a global perspective on conservation and the needs of indigenous peoples.  She writes posts about birding, nature, stopping climate breakdown, conservation and stopping species loss,  other environmental issues and racism from around the world. 

Expertise in birds and nature

She has been birding all her life with her parents and sister as well as birding abroad. She is passionate about birds, obtained her BTO Bird ringing licence at the youngest possible age of 16, takes part in the BTO Nest Record Scheme and became the youngest person to see half the worlds’ birds when she was 17 in Brazil in August 2019. 

Climate Activist

Mya-Rose has been highlighting the urgent need to tackle climate change since she was 8 years old, raising the issue with pupils, teachers in school and local people. She continued with her campaigning from January 2014, blogging about climate change and quickly building a huge following and reaching 1 million views. In 2015, she was recognised for her climate campaigning work by being made a Bristol 2015 European Green Capital Ambassador along with Miranda Krestovnikoff, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Kevin McCloud and Simon King and spoke at the Bristol Climate Change Rally Nov 2015 in front of 3,000 people. She continued writing, speaking and campaigning about the need for governments and big businesses to take urgent action to stop a climate catastrophe, particularly within the context of Bangladesh being at the top of the list of countries that will be most affected, the need for Global Climate Justice and a fair transition. In 2019, she camped and protested at Extinction Rebellion uprisings in London and Bristol, appeared in the video that launched the successful Stop Bristol Airport Expansion Campaign, set up XR Chew Valley, is a Bristol Youth Strike organiser, speaking three times at the Bristol Youth Strikes in March, May and July 2019 and sits on the Bristol Mayor’s One City Environmental Sustainability Board. In February 2020, she shared a stage with Greta Thunberg in Bristol, speaking in front of a crowd of 40,000 youth strikers. Mya-Rose also campaigns and gives talks arguing for global climate justice and a fair and just transition.

Conservation work

As well as educating people about the benefits of nature Mya-Rose has also campaigned to protect species from extinction and fight against environmental damage since she was 8 years old, then in January 2014  starting to blog about conservation issues such as palm oil, GMO, pesticides and other issues, for instance, campaigning for the immediate clean up of a devastating oil spill in the  Unesco World Heritage site, the Sundarbans mangroves in Bangladesh, writing in the American Birding Association Blog and raising $35,000 for the cleanup in 3 days. She has travelled all her life, visiting all seven continents when she was 13 years old, giving her a global perspective on conservation and the needs of indigenous peoples. 


In 2014 Mya-Rose was listed with singer-songwriter George Ezra and Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams as one of Bristol's most influential young people. She was nominated in the Birdwatch Magazine Birder's Choice Awards 2015 in the Blogger of the Year category and she was the runner up after Mark Avery and was nominated in the Bristol Young Heroes Awards 2016. In 2017 she won the Royal Bath and West Show Environmental Youth Award, she was the Minister of Diversity in Nature and Conservation in Chris Packham's A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife. In 2019, she was listed in Bristol's BME Top 100 Powerlist, The Guardian’s 10 everyday heroes fighting to save the planetwas nominated in the Birdwatch Magazine Birder's Choice Awards 2019  Conservation Hero of the Year with Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot. coming joint second after Greta Thunberg, was included in the Bristol Powerlist 2020, a list of the City’s 50 most powerful and influential people and The Guardian’s Top 15 World's Biodiversity Activists. Women of the Future 2020 Young Star Nominee.

Honorary Doctorate

In February 2020 Mya-Rose became the youngest person to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science D.Sc. h.c from Bristol University, one of the top universities in the UK and is receiving it for her five years of campaigning for diversity in the environmental sector. The sixth-former, yet to finish her A-Levels, is being recognised for her activism and the much-needed pioneering change through Black2Nature including nature camps and her Race Equality in Nature Conferences.

Connecting with children

Mya-Rose has huge experience engaging children and teenagers of all ages, ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds with nature and environmental issues, having engaged approximately 50,000 so far.  As President of her organisation Black2Nature she has led the fight for equal access to the natural environment for Visible Minority Ethnic people, organising nine nature camps, Camp Avalon, for VME children and teenagers and two high profile conferences, Race Equality in Nature and is organising more for 2020She also wrote to five of the biggest NGO's in 2015, after her first camp, asking them what steps they were taking to make their organisations ethnically diverse and has continued putting pressure on nature, conservation, environmental, environmental education and wildlife film-making sectors to change. In 2020, she has two teenage camps being arranged in conjunction with the RSPB and hopes that these will expand over the next 3 years.

Race Activist

Her first conference was in 2016, which aimed to increase the ethnic diversity in nature by looking at the barriers to Visual Minority Ethnic (VME) people going out into nature, what can be done to overcome these barriers and how we can create VME role models. Speakers included Bill Oddie, Kerry McCarthy MP, Stephen Moss and Dr Richard Benwell. She also organised a second conference, Race Equality in Nature: The Next Generation 13-30 in October 2019 with Speakers Chris Packham, Bristol Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig, Green Party Councillor Cleo Lake, RSPB CEO Beccy Speight and Survival International CEO Stephen Corry.

She has also set up Black2Nature in 2016 with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of VME people and is President. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. 

Articles, interviews and books

She has written articles for and appeared in many newspapers including BBC News OnlineThe Times, The GuardianThe Sunday ObserverThe Sunday TelegraphThe IndependentDaily MailThe MetroNew StatesmanBig IssueNew InternationalistResurgence & Ecologist MagazineFriends of the Earth Magazine and Triodos Bank Magazine. She has been published in The Willowherb ReviewNew Networks for NatureChartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and Red Sixty Seven. She is writing a children’s book and an autobiography about growing up with a passion for birds and her journey to seeing half the world’s birds.


She has given over 50 talks including her first hour and a half entertaining look at growing up birding, Born to Bird, in 2014, speaking at Tedx in 2016, being on a Panel with George Monbiot & Caroline Lucas MP in 2017, appearing at the Hay Festival 2018 Main Stage, speaking to 500 pupils at Millfield School, speaking at Chris Packham’s 2018 Peoples Walk for Wildlife in front of 10,000 people in Hyde Park and at English Nature’s 2019 Staff Conference to 1,500 conservationists.

Television and Radio

She has appeared on TV and Radio including BBC SpringwatchBBC CountryfileBBC The One Show, Inside Out, BBC Radio Four Tweet of the DayITV West Film Feature plus a second and thirdBBC Radio Four Saturday Live as well News such as Channel Four News, ITV News, Channel 5 News, The Today Programme appearing in BBC Four Twitchers: A Very British Obsession age 7 and featured in the 2017 BFI/BBC Four Silent Roars, presenting a German-French Arte/ARD documentary Missing - Where have all the birds gone? investigating the decline of grassland and farmland bird species, a 2020 short film by Josh Duryshort videos for EarthWatch Institute Wild Days ProgrammeBBC2 Front Row Late, 3 episodes of Countryfile, The One Show, BBC Sunday Am Breakfast and two episodes of One to One, the first of which was chosen as Radio Four's Pick of the Week. 


Mya-Rose also campaigns to stop biodiversity loss and species extinction and the rights of indigenous peoples. She has attended many meetings at Downing Street and Parliament. 

These are her Patron's and Ambassadorships:

RSPB - England Committee Member
Creative England - Trustee
The Summer Camps - Trustee
The Resilience Trust - Advisory Board member

The Tony Trust - Patron
The Bristol Global Goals Centre - Patron
Burns Price Foundation - Patron
Backyard Nature - Patron
Froglife - Patron

Survival International -  Ambassador
 World Shorebird Day - Ambassador
Beaver Trust - Ambassador
Swarovski Optik - Opinion Leader
The Wildlife Trust - Ambassador
Ecostreamz - Ambassador
#Togetherband - Ambassador
Charter Champion for The Charter for Trees, Woods and People
Earthwatch Europe - Ambassador
Catalyse Change - Ambassador

Sustainable Fashion Week - Diversity Lead
Bristol City Council - Sector Leader Committee Member
Bristol #WasteNothing Challenge Partner
Youth for our Planet - Diversity lead on Advisory Panel

Mya-Rose above all has a passion and love of birds and wildlife driving her in everything. Her favourite birds are Harpy Eagle seen in Brazil and Southern Cassowary in Queensland, Australia. Other animal favourites are Orangutang in Borneo, Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Emperor Penguin in Antarctica and Komodo Dragon in Indonesia.

Social Media

Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page, follow her on Birdgirl TwitterBirdgirl Instagram and Birdgirl LinkedIn. If you would like to contact Mya-Rose about her work, please e-mail

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