Scrolling news:

In conversation with Mya-Rose Craig, ornithologist, climate and equal rights campaigner

27th Nov 2020
In conversation with Mya-Rose Craig, ornithologist, climate and equal rights campaigner

Mya-Rose Craig, 18, takes part in a youth strike in the middle of the Arctic Ocean,hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle. (Credit: Daniella Zalcman/Greenpeace)


Dubbed ‘Britain’s Greta Thunberg’ 18-year-old Mya-Rose aka Birdgirl holds the mantle of Britain’s youngest honorary doctorate recipient. She was bestowed the doctorate in science from the University of Bristol earlier this year for her conservation and equality work.

The teenager created the NGO Black2Nature to run nature camps for visible minority ethnic (VME) children.

The teenager was a “Bristol 2015 Ambassador” during the city’s year as European Green Capital.  She is a bird ringer and won the National Biodiversity Network’s 2018 Gilbert White Youth Award for recording terrestrial and freshwater wildlife. She contributed to Chris Packham’s A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife. She spoke to a crowd of 10,000 at the Packham-organised People’s Walk for Wildlife. At the age of twelve, she had a column, Birding Tales, in the Chew Valley Gazette.

Her writing was also published in New Internationalist when she was thirteen.She has made a series of national television appearances, including the BBC’s The One Show and ITV’s News at Ten. In 2010, she was featured in a BBC Four documentary (filmed in 2009, when she was seven years old), Twitchers: A Very British Obsession, alongside Lee Evans.

How did your passion for bird-watching and conservation start
at such a young age?

My mum is British Bangladeshi Muslim and grew up in the 1970s and 80s in Bristol, going out into beautiful scenic places with her family to play cricket and football and have picnics. They would have short strolls but it was not until after she met my dad, who was mad about birds, that she became interested in birds. I was taken out into nature from being a baby and grew up with my older sister, Ayesha, acting as a role model to me. Having someone who looked like me and obsessed with birds had a big impact on me and my interest in birds.When I was 4-years-old, we went to South Africa to look at the animals and birds, which gave me the opportunity of seeing conservation issues in the flesh and helped me start to understand the inter-relationship between conservation, colonialism and nature.

You set up Black2Nature to increase the access to nature of
Visibly Minority Ethnic people, why is it important they have access?

From a young age I realised how much being out in nature helped my physical and mental health. People from VME communities are far more likely to suffer from mental health issues and for their illness to be serious. I’m positive de-stressing outside has a big positive impact on me. We are meant to be outside just enjoying the surroundings. Humans have evolved to be outside as part of nature. 60% of the people admitted into mental hospital wards are VME, three times the national average. Also, connecting with nature gets us caring about the environment and sustainability, so we need to have as many people as possible campaigning to stop climate change and biodiversity loss. Most of the children who come to my nature camps are Muslim and have not been allowed to go to school camp. However, they are allowed to come to my camp because my family help run them and as Muslims, we comply with the needs of Muslim children.

Has your faith played any part on the conservation of nature?

My faith as a Muslim is very important to me and I believe that an important part of Islam is to look after the needs of all people especially those who are less well-off and need help. Conservation is closely linked to our survival, and so we have to try and protect nature and our planet. For example, there are four million climate refugees in Dhaka in Bangladesh already who have arrived homeless, so we must help them by campaigning for climate change to be stopped.

You contacted conservation NGO’s to address their lack of diversity,
how was their feedback and why do you think inclusivity was overlooked?

I contacted the CEO’s of the four biggest conservation organisations back in 2015, more than five years ago, after my first nature camp. At that time VME people were completely invisible in the sector. The organisations responded positively but wanted me to visit them all over the county. Instead, I organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 but almost no senior people came. Until I started raising the issue, they had convinced themselves that VME people were not interested in going outside or into nature, which suited them. The progress has been painful with very little action and a lot of organisations undermining of me and my campaign.

You recently travelled to the Arctic with Greenpeace to protest climate change, why was it significant to hold the protest there and what struck you the most from that visit?

Greenpeace asked me to travel to the Arctic with a boat of climate scientists who were going to do tests in the sea to prove there was life in the Arctic Sea. We had to travel a long way north to even find any ice as the sea had melted so much. That is beyond shocking. I felt like I was seeing an omen from the future. We were only 650 miles from the North Pole before we got to slushy ice. Lots of countries in the Arctic Circle want to travel through the newly opened up sea, using fishing trawlers and also drill for oil. Proving there is life there is going to help stop these explorations. that was the real reason for the expedition, but the youth strike was an add-on, and we had no idea there would be so much interest in the highlighting of the melting ice. It was scary sitting on the ice as it was melting round me.

How does it feel like to be the youngest Briton to be awarded an honorary degree?
That was really fantastic and I felt like even if the conservation and the environmental movement was trying to ignore my message, other sectors still were listening. When I got the email from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, I thought it was a hoax until they came back and confirmed it was true. The best part was getting huge applause from the students after I spoke, as it was their graduation. 2020 has been an amazing year for me, despite the pandemic.

What message do you have for the Government and the readers on what they could do to help the environment?

My message to your readers, my brothers and sisters, is that our Government wants us to believe that as VME people we are too poor, busy, disinterested to fight for climate change, for the environment or to stop species extinction. However, these should be our top priority as our relatives and country people are already suffering, and we cannot stand back and allow catastrophic weather changes such as droughts, flooding, cyclones, hurricanes and sea rise. 40,000 people mainly living in the most deprived, inner-city areas of the UK are already dying each year. White middle-class climate activists will try to tell your communities that unless you stop flying to see family, can afford electric cars and become vegan, you are ‘not allowed’ to campaign to stop climate change. This is the lie of ‘the carbon footprint’ made up by a BP in the 1970s to disempower you from making change. 80% of the needed carbon reduction is solely in the hands of governments and big business. So that is the most important place to focus our attention because these changes will make things easier for us to act, for example, with cheaper electric cars, electric planes and universal fossil-free energy.
My message to our Government is that they must take the action needed now to adhere to their Paris Agreement commitment and to ensure that the UK is carbon neutral by 2030 and stopping all extraction of fossil fuels within twelve months.

Interview by Elham Asaad Buaras

Leave a Comment

What is 12 + 15 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

Latest Tweets

Betboo Porno izle Mobile porn hilesi