MERL Annual Lecture – The British Countryside in 2030

Richard Benyon, Newbury MP and Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, will explore the issues surrounding the future of the British countryside when he presents MERL’s Annual Lecture on Thursday 29 November.

Richard Benyon said: “In 2012, it could be said that the British countryside is in a state of imbalance. While many species have, within a generation, all but disappeared from the landscape, others are thriving and becoming increasingly problematic as pests or predators of endangered species. We face an unprecedented number of invasive and non-indigenous species, as well as the unwelcome arrival of new diseases in plants and animals. So we have to face it: for perhaps decades we have been getting it wrong. Now, we need to be braver about intervening to better manage our wildlife and countryside.”

Kate Arnold-Forster, Director of the Museum of English Rural Life says:  ‘We are delighted to be welcoming such a  distinguished speaker for this year’s lecture as part of  MERL’s  contribution to the national debate surrounding the future of the countryside and the promotion of wider understanding of issues relating to rural life’.

Richard Benyon has been MP for Newbury since May 2005. Before coming to government Mr Benyon served as a Shadow Minister for the Environment, Fisheries and Wildlife. Prior to this appointment he was a Party Whip.  He has also served on the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Mr Benyon lives in West Berkshire where he is a farmer. He is a former soldier and is a founder Trustee of the charity Help for Heroes.


The lecture is being held on 29 November at 7pm in the University of Reading’s historic Great Hall, on the London Road campus. Admission is free, although tickets are required. These can be requested by contacting the Museum at or calling 0118 378 8660. Further details are available on the MERL website at