Rural – Jersey Country Life Magazine


Alan Le Maistre

The National Trust for Jersey had its annual general meeting recently. With the retirement of Charles Alluto, a new CEO has been appointed – Alan Le Maistre. He introduced himself to members in a speech at the agm which, follows below:

As this is my first opportunity to speak to our Members I thought it would be useful to introduce myself and to give you a bit of flavour of who I am and what I hope to bring to the Trust.

First and foremost I am a proud and passionate Jerseyman who was raised in deepest darkest Grouville before moving back to my family home in Trinity. I was brought up on winkles and black butter, on wonders and bean crock. My family have been farming their land for 8 generations and we’ve lived in our home for over 200 years. So I understand the responsibility and the passion that people feel for their homes, for their land, for their family history and for our island.

I qualified from university as a biologist and I care passionately about the natural environment and conservation. Before joining the Trust, I served on the board of a local charity and I was the founder and director of a rural heritage business and sustainable farm which helped create the successful Regen agricultural conference.

But I made my livelihood working as a financial professional; with 16 years management experience in the investment industry.  I hold the Chartered Financial Analyst qualification and I spent my career analysing business strategy. Having reviewed our books, I feel extremely fortunate that Charles Alluto has left the Trust in a very strong financial position.  This gives us a lot of opportunity moving forward and I also see great scope to improve and optimise our financial performance. 

My vision for the Trust hinges on one key principle. Our aim is to protect Jersey’s natural beauty, rich wildlife and historic places for everyone, for ever. Since 1936 the Trust has done a fantastic job and we should look back with pride. We have saved 32 historic buildings and 2,000 vergées of countryside. We are succeeding in our goal to protect our Island for ever, but I think it’s time that we focused our efforts on making sure that we deliver that benefit for everyone. We have a huge opportunity to use our buildings, our land and our people to give so much more to the Island and in doing so to enhance the public perception and support for the Trust. There is only so much of the Island that we can protect by ourselves: I believe that our greatest opportunity is to inspire, encourage and mobilise not only our members, but the 110,000 people living on our island and everyone who visits. The best way to do that is not by telling people what to do, but by showing them what can be done, by engaging with them, by working collaboratively and by telling our story. 

Our property portfolio is the backbone of the Trust. It’s our most important source of predictable income. Over the last few years we have successfully developed a strong pipeline of potential capital projects. We now need to thoroughly assess and compare their respective financial merit before progressing. The majority of our properties are residential and we cannot get away from that. But where possible we should look to diversify our portfolio, to reduce the risk of being over exposed to one sector and to maximise the public benefit that we can deliver from our sites. 

Complexes like La Ronde Porte offer so much potential; being a large site, close to town, with numerous outbuildings that could be used for a multitude of purposes. We are fortunate to be asset rich in an island that has limited resources and we should look to collaborate with other charities, with government and others who are less fortunate to find new and more socially-oriented uses for these sites. Being more outward looking we can appeal to the interests of different stakeholders and potential supporters and more easily attract investment. This would significantly reduce the financial burden faced by the Trust. There is also potential to create commercial utility from our sites, for example we could create a facility to mill and process the vast supply of timber harvested by our Lands Team. No such facility exists on the Island and it’s a tragedy that our natural resources are being wasted, particularly when local hardwoods are so scarce and valuable. Durrell and Jersey Hospice have incredibly successful shops that have become critical sources of income for both charities. There is an untapped niche in architectural salvage and upcycling, we could look to fill that void.  There isn’t a single second-hand book shop in Jersey despite being one of the most important sources of income for the National Trust in England. These are just examples.  They might not be the answer, but there are so many opportunities for us to explore and we should do so with an open mind.
Whilst our properties will always be a core part of our work, I think some of the lowest hanging fruit is in in how we use our land. Everybody cares about climate change, everybody cares about conservation and everybody cares about living in a beautiful, wild island, surrounded by clear seas. It is what makes Jersey special. 

The Trust is one of the largest landowners in the Island. We have more power and more responsibility to influence local conservation than any other body outside government.

We need to invest in our Lands team and we need to shift our focus to delivering strategic conservation projects that make a visible impact and that help people connect with our work. There is a fine balance between conservation and public access. Where possible I would like to see us open more of our sites to the public to improve access so that everyone, including a whole range of different users, can enjoy our countryside and coastline. 

There is a huge and growing demand for us to help local businesses achieve their Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Social and Governance targets. Additionally, If Biodiversity Net Gain legislation is implemented, as it has been in the UK, then the Island will be faced with a chronic shortage of ecologists. The trust needs to embrace these opportunities with ambition.

Finally I come on to farming. The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the World and regrettably Jersey is no different – most our countryside has been turned to farmland. Arguably our greatest opportunity to improve biodiversity, to tackle climate change and to enhance local conservation is to farm more sustainably. Farming is a key part of our Island’s heritage and identity and the Trust is one of the largest agricultural landlords in the Island. We are in a unique position to shape and support the farming industry. We have an opportunity to work more collaboratively with farmers and to use our lands and buildings to support new entrants, to encourage diversification, and most importantly to promote more sustainable farming and food security. We should consider the feasibility of pursuing exciting projects on our land, from rewilding to agroforestry, and to set a precedent for others to follow.

I hope that gives you a small taste of my vision and aspiration. Over the last 88 years the Trust has made a remarkable impact on our Island and Charles Alluto has been a huge part of that. I am so excited to build on that foundation and to do my part to serve you and our Island. By appointing someone young to this important role I think the Trust has already sent a bold statement to the public, that it is forward-looking, ambitious and investing for the future.I hope that as CEO I can be a bridge between the financial and rural communities, between the old and the young and between traditional values and modern opportunities. My hope is that through inclusivity and the service of all members of our community we can take the Trust to new heights and that, together, we will create a better future for our Island: for everyone, for ever. 



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