Benedict Macdonald

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Benedict Macdonald
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Born (1987-12-16) December 16, 1987 (age 36)
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma mater
  • Colston’s Lower School in Bristol
  • Castle School in Thornbury
  • Christ Church in Oxford

Benedict (Ben) Macdonald (born 16 December 1987), aged 32, is a British nature writer, wildlife television director and conservationist. He has previously worked as a professional photographer...[1] and retains a keen interest in photography and cinematography. He lives and works in Bristol, UK.

Early life and education

Macdonald was born in Bristol. He attended Colston’s Lower School in Bristol and Castle School in Thornbury, and then studied at Christ Church, Oxford[2]

Books & Publishing

Macdonald’s first book, Rebirding, has received widespread praise from the mainstream press to individual conservationists and grass-roots environmentalists. It has been described as “visionary, illuminating and fascinating” by George Monbiot and “visionary yet practical” by New Statesman[3]. It has been described as a “splendid new book” in a review in The Guardian[4]. A widespread range of other voices not normally associated with rewilding have got behind the book, from associate editor of The Spectator, Rod Liddle, to sheep-farmer and acclaimed writer James Rebanks. Rebirding has been shortlisted for the Richard Jefferies Nature-writing Prize[5].

Macdonald’s second book, Orchard: A Year in England’s Eden, co-written with friend and producer Nicholas Gates, is published in August 2020 with Harper Collins[6]. His third book, Cornerstones, which reveals the crucial roles that certain animals play in the British countryside, from bees to beavers, will be published by Bloomsbury in September 2021. Macdonald remains a regular writer for the RSPB Magazine Nature’s Home[7], BBC Wildlife[8] and Birdwatching Magazine[9]. He has also written features for a number of publications including a recent piece on grouse moors for The Spectator[10]


Macdonald has worked in natural history television and programme-making since graduating from Oxford University in 2009. After self-training as a wildlife cameraman, he worked on a film The Lost World, which premiered at the Royal Geographical Society in 2011, which explored the wildlife and heritage of the Guyana Highlands in Venezuela. In 2012, he worked on the BBC One series The Hunt[11], narrated by Sir David Attenborough. In 2013, he worked on The One Show and ITV’s series River Monsters and, in 2014, on Springwatch. From 2015-17, Macdonald worked as a researcher and field director on the Emmy Award-winning Attenborough series Our Planet for Netflix, which won two Emmys and was nominated for a further eight Emmy awards[12]. From 2018 to 2020, he worked as an assistant producer and field director on two wildlife series for the new streaming service Apple TV. Macdonald is currently working as a producer/director for National Geographic and based at Plimsoll Productions in Bristol.

Environment & Conservation

Since he was five years old, Macdonald has been passionate about the natural world; rearing and releasing butterflies into the wild during his early school years. During his school years, he developed a keen passion for ornithology after many trips to the Norfolk countryside[13]. As a volunteer Ben has been active since 2011 as a licensed bird nest-recorder for the British Trust for Ornithology[14]. In recent years, Macdonald has been a vocal advocate of widespread ecological restoration and reforming farming for wildlife in the UK, both through books such as Rebirding[15] and in the national press such as The Times[16]. In 2020, Macdonald unfavourably compared the state of wildlife in Inner London to even more denuded habitats in many of Britain’s national parks, with articles published in The Sun[17], The Mirror[18] and The Telegraph[19].

"Whilst the arguments Macdonald has put forward for ecological restoration have been welcome in a number of quarters, he has also been vigorously challenged by some in the shooting community. Writing in The Spectator, Toby Young argued that "no bird has become extinct in Europe since 1852, but if you rewilded Britain’s shooting estates the curlew might well be next"[20].

"Andy Clements, CEO of the British Trust for Ornithology, reflected that "Rebirding certainly provides food for thought, in any case, and deserves to be read by those interested in a more natural future."[21]


  1. Macdonald, Ben (2007). "The Master's Garden, Christ Church, Oxford, England". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  2., (2007). "Christ Church Boat Club 2007 Crews" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  3. Macdonald, Benedict; Moss, Stephen (2020-04-01). "Rewilding Britain and its Birds". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  4. Flannery, Tim (2020-01-10). "Rebirding by Benedict Macdonald review – rewilding Britain and its birds". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  5. Jefferies, Richard (2020-01-17). "Short-list announced for best nature writing literary award". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  6. Macdonald, Benedict; Gates, Nicholas (2020-08-20). "Orchard: A Year in England's Eden". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  7. S, Anna (2018-10-04). "Inside your Winter issue". Magazine. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  8. MacDonald, Ben (2018-07-04). "To understand and save our declining farmland birds we must look to when mammals shaped the landscape". BBC Wildlife Magazine. BBC Wildlife Magazine. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  9. MacDonald, Ben (2012). "The scourge of the grouse moor". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  10. MacDonald, Ben (2019-05-11). "The scourge of the grouse moor". Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  11. Fothergrill, Alastair; Attenborough, David (2015-11-02). "The Hunt". BBC. BBC. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  12. Attenborough, David (2020-04-16). "David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet". Our Planet. Our Planet. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  13. Macdonald, Benedict (2013-04-30). "Extinction? Re-pelican" (PDF). rewildingbritain. rewildingbritain. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  14. Leech, Dave (2012-03-28). "The newsletter of the Nest Record Scheme" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  15. Macdonald, Benedict (2019-04-08). "Rebirding". pelagicpublishing. pelagicpublishing. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  16. Yeomans, Emma (2019-05-31). "Return of elk 'could save the countryside". The Times. The Times. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  17. Sturgis, John (2020-04-08). "Urban areas are thriving with more wildlife than 'exploited and degraded' national parks, expert claims". The Sun. The Sun. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  18. Armstrong, Jeremy (2020-04-07). "Wild birds 'thrive better in Peckham than national parks like Peak District'". The Mirror. The Mirror. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  19. Horton, Helena (2020-04-07). "Urban wildlife is now more diverse than many national parks, says leading naturalist". Telegraph. Telegraph Newspaper. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  20. Young, Toby (2019-05-18). "Enough grousing about grouse moors". The Spectator. The Spectator. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  21. Clements, Andy (2019-12-02). "Rebirding – Rewilding Britain and its Birds". Retrieved 2020-05-26.

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