His introduction to applied conservation was during the six years he spent working for the UK government as Nature Conservancy Council officer for Shetland and then for Hertfordshire. His doctoral work on black guillemots and the offshore oil industry was completed at Oxford University in 1986.
In 1990 he moved to Canada and worked until 1996 for the federal government’s Canadian Wildlife Service on wildlife toxicology programs of the Great Lakes, documenting levels and impacts of toxic pollutants on wildlife at the top of aquatic foodwebs.
He joined World Wildlife Fund Canada as Director of Canada’s Endangered Species Program in 1996, and then led WWF’s Arctic conservation work from 2000-2006, focusing heavily on shifting the industrial development paradigm to one that provides adequately for conservation of intact ecosystems and ecological and cultural diversity, while the opportunity still remains.
Pete was lead specialist for WWF’s Canadian species conservation work from 2007-2020. His work centred on conservation of flagship species—such as whales and polar bears—in globally significant regions, accelerating the recovery of Species At Risk, and increasing the connection of urban citizens to wildlife species and their needs. He has published over 100 scientific papers and book chapters.
In recent years, Pete has been very active in widlife habitat restoration in urban areas, with Nature Connected Communities initiatives at WWF and now independently with Project Swallowtail in west Toronto, by restoring native plant habitats in gardens and other private and public spaces. He finds the increasing numbers of citizens who are keen to play a role in building a better-balanced future very inspiring.