WWT appoints Sarah Fowler as new chief executive

We are delighted to announce that WWT has appointed Sarah Fowler as our new Chief Executive.

Sarah is currently Chief Executive of Peak District National Park Authority and has an extensive background in nature conservation and connecting people to green and blue spaces, as well as leadership and organisational development.

Sarah has delivered changes that have benefitted wildlife and people throughout her career and this focus will continue at WWT.In her current role, she has led the development of the National Park Authority’s strategy and has led for the ten English National Parks on their nature recovery work, developing ambitious plans to meet the government’s targets on tackling biodiversity loss, chaired a coalition of partners across the north in ambitious plans to restore 92% of England’s upland peatland, and helped to develop the acclaimed National Parks Experience Collection that showcases high quality sustainable tourism offers from businesses across the National Parks.

Sarah has previously worked in the Environment Agency, led a sustainable development charity in Peterborough (Peterborough Environment City Trust) and worked at English Nature. She began her career at the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, leading the Wildlife Trusts Water for Wildlife campaign in Wessex, and has also worked for the RSPB heading up the water policy team.

Sarah joins WWT at a key moment in our development as we focus on the role that wetlands can play in helping to meet our most pressing environmental and societal challenges. Earlier this year, we launched four new overarching ambitions, as part of a refocused strategy drawing on over seven decades of experience in wetland conservation. This new focus is designed to drive greater impact in the UK and internationally for nature and people. In the UK, it includes a target for 100,000 hectares of new wildlife-rich wetlands and over one million more people taking action for wetlands.

Sarah succeeds Martin Spray CBE, who retired from WWT in April 2020 after sixteen years. We delayed appointing a successor until the worst period of the pandemic had passed and Sarah will join us in March 2022. Kevin Peberdy, who has so successfully led the organisation in the interim, will support Sarah in his role of Chief Operating Officer.

Barnaby Briggs, Chair of WWT’s Council of Trustees, said

WWT is delighted to welcome Sarah at such a pivotal moment for the charity and the future of wetland conservation.It is vital that the value of wetlands, for the natural world and the communities that rely on them, is better understood.I am sure that Sarah’s leadership will help us to drive the measures that are urgently needed to deliver positive change.

Sarah commented:

I have always been drawn to the water and wetland environment throughout in my career, and have seen the amazing things healthy wetlands can achieve for people and nature. I am very pleased to join WWT to lead the delivery of its new strategic focus and achieve system-wide changes that will help WWT, and wetlands, be at the heart of positive solutions for climate, nature and people.

I plan to bring my track record and personal drive to help protect, enhance and extend the vibrancy of blue spaces, both nationally and internationally.In doing so, we can create opportunities for people and communities to connect, enjoy, value and make space for water and wetlands and the immense diversity of wildlife they sustain.