Professor David Macdonald, Earthwatch Europe Chairman, Professor of Wildlife Conservation and Director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, has been named a “Commander of the Order of the British Empire,” or CBE, a chivalric honor bestowed by the Queen in national recognition of his services to natural sciences.
On hearing the news on 12 June, Professor Macdonald said: “This is a wonderful honor. Of course, its main significance is to draw attention to the importance of wildlife conservation as a global priority.”
Professor Macdonald has been an Earthwatch trustee since June 2007 and in early 2010 he accepted the position of Chairman. Executive Vice-President of Earthwatch Nigel Winser said: “Everyone here at Earthwatch is delighted to hear this news. It truly reflects David’s long-standing commitment to conservation and the passion and vigour with which he approaches environmental issues.”
In 1986, Professor Macdonald established WildCRU, the very first university-based conservation research institute in the UK. His concept was to tackle the emerging biodiversity crisis and wider environmental issues by bridging the gap between academic theory and practical problem solving. Today WildCRU has a team of around 60 people, who study endangered animals across the globe, and has become recognized as one of the most productive conservation research institutes in the world.
In 2005 he received the Dawkins Prize for Conservation and Animal Welfare; in 2006 the American Society of Mammalogists' Merriam Prize for research in mammalogy and
in 2007 he received The Mammal Society of Great Britain's gold medal for research in mammalogy. His books have twice won the Natural World Natural History Author of the Year Award. Of his TV documentaries, The Night of the Fox was British Academy of Film and Television Arts finalist for Best Documentary of the Year. He also currently serves on the Board of Natural England, and is Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Darwin Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity.
Professor Macdonald said:“As a boyhood naturalist, I couldn’t have imagined the path of good fortune and amazing supporters that have led me here, and to be Oxford’s first Professor of Wildlife Conservation, but over the years, during which I struggled to create WildCRU, I did have complete confidence in the idea that cutting-edge science could make an enormous contribution to solving practical conservation problems. So, I had faith in the vision – even if, as Isaac Newton said, my view of the horizon has been thanks to the giants who have let me perch on their shoulders.”
Earthwatch has worked in partnership with WildCRU on several research initiatives. Currently the two organizations are leading research into the impacts of climate change on the UK’s forests at the Europe Regional Climate Centre in Oxfordshire’s Wytham Woods as part of the HSBC Climate Partnership, and two long-term WildCRU scientists, Drs. Christina Buesching and Chris Newman, lead the Earthwatch Mammals of Nova Scotia research expedition.