Meet the Team

Policy and Advocacy

Kirsten Day

Dr Kirsten Day

Policy & Advocacy Programme Manager

As Programme Manager for Policy and Advocacy, Kirsten is responsible for liaising and maintaining BirdLife South Africa’s relations and  partnerships with the BirdLife Africa and BirdLife International secretariats, various government  and academic institutions and other NGOs in the conservation sector. She oversees BirdLife South Africa’s inputs to relevant legal and policy initiatives, and is responsible for the development and dissemination of various position statements and guidance documents. She also directs  BirdLife South Africa’s responses to development applications where there may be a threat to priority species and habitats. Kirsten has an MPhil in environmental law and a PhD in environmental risk response.

John Pafuri

John Gibbs

Birds and Renewable Energy Project Leader

John is responsible for providing strategic leadership to the Birds and Renewable Energy Project, securing the resources needed to sustain and scale up its work, collaborating with key stakeholders, and encouraging renewable energy operators to contribute positively to biodiversity conservation. John has considerable experience as a financial advisor for renewable energy and other infrastructure projects in various countries. In South Africa, he worked extensively with the Independent Power Producer Office on the design and implementation of the well-known Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). Working for BirdLife South Africa allows him to combine his years of experience in the renewable energy space with his longstanding passion for conservation and the birds of southern Africa.


Sam Ralston-Paton

Birds and Renewable Energy Project Manager

Sam works with government, the renewable energy industry, environmental assessment practitioners, consulting bird specialists and academics to help renewable energy develop in harmony with nature. She has her MSc in Conservation Biology and over 18 years’ experience in environmental management – more than half of which has been spent as BirdLife South Africa’s Birds and Renewable Energy Project Manager. She is passionate about environmental sustainability, and enjoys challenging herself, and other people, to have a more positive impact on the planet.