Professor Sir John Lawton is a fellow of the Royal Society, president of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and chair of the Endangered Landscapes Programme. Previously a trustee of the WWF, head of the Natural Environment Research Council and the most recent chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, there are seemingly few environmental organisations that John hasn’t been involved with. That said, it is birds that have driven John’s lifelong obsession with the natural world. Sitting in John’s back garden amidst the sound of birdsong, this conversation flows from a childhood obsession of brilliant blue hedge sparrow eggs tucked away in his nan’s back garden to following in the shoes of Darwin with a (now frowned-upon) fascination for collecting specimens. John explains how he helped to set up nature protection areas across the world, how he visited Chernobyl in the hopes of persuading the Belarus government to turn the exclusion zone into a national park, and what he got up to with a dolphin in Durham with David Bellamy.