As well as being an environmentalist and religious historian Martin Palmer is an author, broadcaster and public speaker. The Sacred Land project was inspired by his book Sacred Land (Little Brown 2012). He was born in Bristol, the son of a vicar, and explored the city and its outskirts from an early age, acquiring a deep understanding of Bristol’s many hidden curiosities. Before leaving for Cambridge University and a degree in theology and religious studies he spent a year doing voluntary work at an orphanage in Hong Kong. This experience inspired a lifelong fascination with Chinese culture that has led him to study and work with Chinese religions and sacred places and write translations of many important Chinese texts.
His subsequent career as an educationalist took him to Manchester where he wrote Worlds of Difference, a book for schools about how different beliefs shape the ways people treat the natural world. It was the first book of its kind, and it led, in 1986, to him being invited by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh (then International President of WWF) to organise the first ever meeting between the major religions and environmentalists. This crucial meeting, in Assisi, Italy, ultimately led to the formation of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), an international NGO working with many religious traditions to help them create a vision and future of environmental sustainability, and to help them make protecting animals and nature something that is not just taught, but is also carried out. Martin has been the Secretary General of ARC since its launch in 1995. He is married to journalist and author Victoria Finlay and they live in Somerset.