Dr Richard Benwell is the chief executive of England's largest environmental coalition. He has worked at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and, most recently, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In a passionate and expressive interview, Richard explains how he once tried to engage with an MP by emulating the sound of screeching swifts – not the only time he’s been caught doing bird impressions! Exploring why he became involved in campaigning for the environment, Richard points out that the early adoption of climate legislation overshadowed the urgent need for action on the natural environment. But his work introducing a Nature and Wellbeing Act, agricultural reform and the Environment Bill has been instrumental in bringing the issue to the fore. In a Trees A Crowd first, politics is discussed; specifically how Richard managed to turn the risks of leaving the EU into a success for the natural world, before the discussion floats back towards the “alien, flip-flappy feet” of his favourite bird – the coot.