Lead Ranger, Stroud Landscape Project Manager
David Armstrong works as a Lead Ranger across the Cotswolds portfolio and is also the Stroud Landscape Project Manager. He's passionate about improving the fortunes of nature and wildlife in the Cotswolds. He reveals what made him give up his ambition of playing in a progressive rock band to spend his days speaking up for the environment and fighting climate change.
Fishing was always my big passion. Growing up in the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside, I spent much of my teenage years by a lake or along the banks of a river. I wasn't particularly successful at catching fish, but the hours spent trying led me to develop a real love of the countryside and wildlife.
A thirst for knowledge
I studied Zoology at Aberystwyth University focusing mostly on freshwater and marine biology. It wasn't long after I'd graduated that I discovered opportunities in these fields were disappointingly hard to come by.
Fortunately, I secured a role as a botanical surveyor with the then Somerset Trust for Nature Conservation, setting up the county’s first biological records centre. As well as being a job that I really loved, it gave me a really good grounding in plant identification. Later on, I was able to develop these skills as a member of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and recording for the Herefordshire Botanical Society.
Opportunity comes knocking
My career with the Trust began in 1987 when I was employed to write management plans.
" I developed a real appreciation of the care and thought that went into the management of our landscapes that has shaped my thinking ever since. "
Seven years later, I found myself being the Project Officer for the newly acquired Woodchester Park - an eighteenth century designed landscape obscured under a blanket of forestry. Who wouldn't love being given the opportunity to shape and restore such a special place? Luckily, it's something that I have been involved with ever since.
Trees to orchids
For as long as I can remember, there's always been one plant that has intrigued me - the elusive red helleborine. For many years now, I've been working with specialists from Natural England and Kew as part of the Red Helleborine Committee to improve the fortunes of this very rare orchid found in our care. I even took a three month sabbatical to carry out research and search for new sites, and finally completing a written history of the plant in Britain.
" I've always made the most of opportunities to not just protect, but to restore and create. As project manager for the Stroud landscape, I'm able to take this work beyond the boundaries of our places to make a difference to the area I love."
As chair of the Cotswold Scarp Partnership I am working with other organisations and like-minded people to create more spaces for nature by making the network of wildlife sites around Stroud bigger, better and more joined up.