Year of Honorary Fellowship, 2001
Professor Sir John Lawton is an ecological scientist and conservation biologist, and also a passionate natural historian since the young age of seven with a particular love of birds, plants, butterflies and dragonflies.
RSPB Vice President, President (former Chair) of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, President of The Institution of Environmental Sciences, Chairman of York Museums Trust and President of the York Ornithological Club.
In 1989 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was knighted in 2005 for his contributions to ecological science. He has previously been a trustee of WWF UK and head of Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and was the last chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
John’s interests have revolved around population dynamics and biodiversity of birds and insects, and in 1989 he founded the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College London. He has played a major part in promoting UK-wide wildlife conservation, leading the ‘Lawton Review’ of the resilience and adequacy of England’s wildlife sites. The review’s report, Making Space for Nature, was published in 2010. Concluding that England’s ecological network is too small and isolated, the review called for better protection of England’s wildlife and the establishment of new Ecological Restoration Zones. This was widely supported, with the establishment in 2011 of Nature Improvement Areas, and the report continues to inform policy today.
Over the last decade, he has been particularly interested in the impacts of environmental change on ecosystems worldwide and has been notably outspoken about the issue of global warming. Sir John has published over 320 scientific papers throughout his career, and in 2011 he was awarded the RSPB medal for his contributions to wild bird protection and countryside conservation.