Empowering the next generation
Meet recent Master’s degree graduate - and champion of wild places - Tom Martin, who joins us as an intern, filling the role of Carbon Officer.
Where do you consider home right now?
Innerleithen, in the Scottish Borders. It’s just down the road from the Trust’s Glenlude site, where I’ve previously volunteered and had the opportunity to learn about the plans for further restoration of the woodland there.
Where did you grow up?
I’m from Aberdeenshire originally, but I mostly grew up around Innerleithen. Living here allows me to get out in the hills mountain biking regularly, so it’s a good place to be.
Why did you want to do an internship at the John Muir Trust?
It’s been my aim since before going to university to work for a non-profit organisation. I’ve been open to various causes, but always drawn back to the environmental side which is especially important.
I like that the John Muir Trust combines the conservation and land management side of things with policy advocacy. When studying policy during my Master’s I focused on the link between advocacy and charitable activities, so I realise that in the John Muir Trust the two influence each other.
The land the Trust manages in is also very special and includes places where I’ve had fantastic experiences in the past, such as Quinag. I hope to visit other areas where the Trust has property soon – I’m very keen to get up to Knoydart.
What does your day-to-day look like in terms of responsibilities?
I have quite a range of responsibilities. As time goes on a larger chunk of my time will be dedicated to recording the Trust’s internal carbon footprint. So far, a lot my focus has been on meeting with other staff, both in the Trust and other eNGOs, to consider measures to reduce carbon emissions. I will also be involved in a range of other tasks, such as working on the Carbon Emissions Land Tax policy proposal.
What's your interest in policy?
I’m really keen for civil society interests to be represented in policymaking, to – when necessary – counter private interests. Member-backed and funded organisations such as the John Muir Trust are vital in achieving this.
What challenges, if any, are you seeing in the political landscape?
The political landscape could hardly be any more challenging. Complacent and reactionary attitudes are very visible, for example in the current desire to re-discover lost growth and productivity with a drive towards fossil fuels and attacks on environmental protections.
What are you seeing in this role that gives you hope?
I think prior to starting this role I had underestimated the capacity of land restoration, especially of peatland, to lock up carbon. This poses a challenge, but a hopeful one. I’m also seeing an understanding that nature-based solutions do not provide an excuse to ignore the necessity of cutting carbon emissions elsewhere. I think this is absolutely vital in avoiding potential pitfalls.
What are you enjoying most about the job?
Having a variety of different tasks all of which I feel are worthwhile and align with my values. Everyone has been very welcoming as well!
Photo shows Tom Martin (left) pictured with the Trust's Director of Policy Mike Daniels at Glenlude in the Scottish Borders.