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Meet the 2024 Judging Panel

Melissa Ralph - Chair of Judging Panel 

Green Infrastructure for Growth, Project Lead - Cornwall Council

Melissa Ralph is the Project Lead for Green Infrastructure for Growth at Cornwall Council, where she spearheads initiatives integrating sustainable landscapes into urban development. With a background as a Senior Landscape Architect at MeiLoci Landscape Architects and qualifications including a Post Graduate Diploma and a BSc (Hons) in Landscape Design and Plant Science from the University of Sheffield, Melissa brings extensive expertise in environmental awareness and landscape architecture to her role. Passionate about enhancing urban environments through green infrastructure, she champions projects that promote biodiversity and ecological resilience in Cornwall.

Dr Martina Girvan
Technical Director - Arcadis
Martina is a Technical Director of Ecology and Arboriculture with Arcadis.  She has a background in terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem function and joined consultancy following a career in academia, with a short time spent in local government as the Greater Manchester BAP officer. In addition to managing a team of ecologists and the arboricultural business at Arcadis she undertakes major impact assessments for a wide range of national and international developments.  She is a Chartership assessor with CIEEM (the ecology disciplines professional body) and regularly contributes to best practice guidance.  The integration of biodiversity and society is a lifelong passion, she is currently developing the Arcadis natural capital approach in the UK.


Gaëlle Bardsley

UK and Ireland Biodiversity and Climate Adaptation Lead - BAM

Gaëlle is a dedicated professional with 18 years of experience in Environmental Sciences and Ecology. With a background in the design and construction industry, she has developed valuable strategic, teamwork and collaborative leadership skills working across diverse projects, including flood defences, road and rail, housing, and general civil engineering.

Passionate about Sustainability and culture change, Gaëlle has recently embarked on a new career path to align her professional interests. With a focus on continual improvement and driving sustainable solutions, she strives to bring teams together and advocates for diversity, inclusion, and fairness. Gaëlle places great importance on the well-being of both people and the environment. Fluent in both French and English, Gaëlle brings a global perspective to her work. Through her experiences in the UK and abroad, she has made meaningful contributions to the field of environmental sciences.


Caroline Ford                                        

Principal Ecologist - AtkinsRéalis     

Caroline Ford is an Associate Ecologist at AtkinsRéalis with a strong background in habitat and protected species surveys, ecological impact assessments, and biodiversity enhancement. With over eight years at AtkinsRéalis, she manages the delivery of ecology mitigation design for major infrastructure projects and coordinates ecological assessments for diverse development projects. Caroline holds a Master of Science with Distinction in Aquatic Biology and Resource Management and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biological Sciences, both from the University of Exeter. She is a Chartered Ecologist and full member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). Caroline's dedication to ecology is evident through her current and previous roles in local conservation groups including Surrey Dormouse Group (Site Leader and Trainer), Surrey Bat Group (Surveyor) and London Bat Group (Secretary). 

Jo Ferguson

Built Environment Manager - Bat Conservation Trust

Jo has worked for the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) for the last 8 years, initially as the Built Environment Officer, then Built Environment Manager from early 2019. She raises awareness of bat conservation challenges and opportunities in this sector; producing best practice guidance, chairing industry steering groups and developing a platform for training and engagement. Prior to starting at BCT she had been involved with bat conservation in a voluntary and professional capacity for over 10 years. Jo’s more recent professional experience is as an ecological consultant and licensed bat worker specialising in urban ecology; providing surveys, mitigation and enhancement advice covering a range of development projects, including residential, commercial and transport. She also has extensive experience in scientific research, working for the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology at the University of Melbourne and Earthwatch Australia. Jo is a Full Member of CIEEM, a Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor for Natural England and London Bat Group Member. 

Zoe Hilditch

Environmental Sustainability Manager - Cormac

Zoe is the Environmental Sustainability Manager for Cormac and an IEMA Practitioner. Having been an active member of a central Carbon Reduction, Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (CREST), as of this year she has been chairing a Cormac CREST bringing people together to collaborate and share ideas across Cormac’s wide range of services. Working for Cormac for the last 5 years, she has worked on a number of major projects delivering biodiversity enhancements, coastal protection and natural flood management, ensuring environmental compliance and overseeing sustainable project delivery. She was part of the project delivery team involved in the Green Infrastructure For Growth (GI4G) scheme which was the Overall Winner of the BIG Biodiversity Awards in 2019 and Making Space for Nature (MSFN) which was received a Highly Commended accolade in the 2022. Additionally, she is a BREEAM Infrastructure (formerly CEEQUAL) Assessor and has been a fundamental part of achieving three Excellent ratings for Whole Team Project awards in recent years and is also a qualified Building with Nature Assessor.


Manuella Pestana

Environmental Engineer - Heathrow

Manuella, with a background as an environmental, health, and safety engineer and wellbeing professional, has served as an engineer lecturer, Oil and Gas Trainer, and now works in the aviation industry. Currently, as an Industrial Engineer Environmental at Heathrow, she focuses on enhancing biodiversity, sustainability, and mitigating climate change risks by establishing environmental standards for projects to ensure asset sustainability. Additionally, she is a children’s author of "The Nature Voice," a career mentor at Brunel University, and actively supports women in self-knowledge within the London community.


Ben Mitchell

Principal Ecologist - Ministry of Justice

Ben Mitchell is the Principal Ecologist at the Ministry of Justice, charge with delivering nature recovery across the justice estate. He has over 18 years of experience in professional consultancy and nature conservation sectors, both within the UK and internationally. He has led numerous large-scale projects, including a 2300-unit housing development in Eastleigh and the creation of 10.2 hectares of heathland for a national infrastructure project. Ben has been instrumental in developing local bat policies, such as the Corsham "Batscapes" and the Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy for Wiltshire Council. With extensive knowledge of UK and European legislation and habitat management, he specialises in ecologically sound development and creating successful mitigation strategies for various protected species and habitats.

Richard Thomas

Group Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Director - Trustgreen

Richard is the Group ESG (environmental social governance) Director for Trustgreen – one of the country’s premier open space management companies. Viewing sustainability as a core theme that runs through every aspect of a successful organisation, he is responsible for leading and delivering sustainability and environmental social governance across the group. This includes all aspects of corporate social responsibility, environmental impact and biodiversity net gain delivery, ensuring we become key partners in the communities that we operate in.

Matt Tompsett

Head Environment and Sustainability - Kier Highways
Matt is responsible for setting the companywide steer for environmental and sustainability issues. Matt started his career working for a habitat conservation charity before moving into Highways about 15 years ago. He is a Chartered Environmentalist and an active member of several steering groups inc. the CECA Carbon Group, IEMA Climate Change Group and Chairs the Transport for London Environmental Working Group. Matt has worked with CIRIA on developing guidance on Green Infrastructure on Linear Assets. 


Jackie Sharp

Sustainability Consultant - Independent

Jackie Sharp is a sustainability consultant, specialising in strategy, implementation, and communication, with over a decade of experience. She has held prominent roles such as Interim Head of Policy and Technical at the Landscape Institute and Group Sustainability Manager at Berkeley Group Plc, where she focused on the company’s Nature and Communities commitments for its developments. Jackie has led significant projects including the Government’s Home of 2030 programme and the Hertfordshire Low Carbon Innovation Network.  With an MSc in Environmental Management from The Open University, Jackie is dedicated to promoting sustainable development and creating impactful, ecologically sound strategies.​


Alistair Law
Founder - Vertical Meadow

Alistair Law is the Founder of Vertical Meadow, a company dedicated to integrating nature into urban environments through innovative living wall systems. With a strong background in facade design and engineering, he also works part-time as a facade engineer at Arup. Alistair holds an MEng in Civil Engineering from the University of Bristol and a Master’s in Industrial Design from ENSCI Les Ateliers in Paris. His work focuses on sustainable, low-maintenance greening solutions that promote biodiversity in cities. Passionate about nature-based solutions, Alistair's mission is to transform urban spaces through ecological design.

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