Cat Barton

Policy Lead: Deforestation-Free Commodities and Regenerative Agriculture

  • Qualifications B.Sc. (Hons) M.Sc.
  • Focus area
    Places Policy
  • Location
    South East Asia

I joined Chester Zoo’s Field Programmes team in August 2008 after studying for a BS. in Zoology followed by a MSc in Wildlife Conservation and Management at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. After working at wildlife media charity Wildscreen, I joined the team at Chester Zoo where my roles have included project monitoring and evaluation, communications and conservation campaigning.

My key interests and specialisms are in commodity driven deforestation, sustainable agriculture and supply chains. I have developed a strong network of national and international stakeholders with the aim of driving sector change to protect tropical rainforests and reduce deforestation to benefit both biodiversity and climate change. I am responsible for developing field projects that link wildlife conservation with sustainable agriculture and forest risk commodities with a current main focus in Indonesia and Malaysia on sustainable palm oil.

Collaboration with the national and international zoos and aquariums sector is a key part of my role, and I represent the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) , the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) on sustainable agriculture groups. Through my work with BIAZA I am a member of the UK industry roundtables on sustainable palm oil and sustainable soya. The policy element of my work includes calling for changes in legislation and practices within certification schemes, industry and Government to ensure more responsible, deforestation-free supply chains.

Working collaboratively with various internal departments, our work on sustainable palm oil seeks innovative and engaging ways of empowering and communicating with audiences to deliver improved understanding and conservation impact. I co-created the ‘Sustainable Palm Oil Communities’ project, an ambitious community-based behaviour change programme with the aim of driving a cultural shift towards deforestation free sustainable palm oil in order to protect wildlife. This project saw Chester become the world’s first Sustainable Palm City, and we are working with other communities across the UK with the aim of expanding the programme internationally.

Key publications:

Ancrenaz, M., Barton, C., Riger, P. & Wich, S. et al. 2018. Building relationships: how zoos and other partners can contribute to the conservation of wild orangutans Pongo sppInternational Zoo Yearbook, 52, 1-9.


If you are interested in collaborating with Cat on a project, you can get in touch with her directly via email below!

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