Edward Max Nicholson

Edward Max Nicholson (12 July 1904 – 26 April 2003) was a pioneering environmentalist, ornithologist and internationalist, and a founder of the World Wildlife Fund.[1]

Early life

Max Nicholson, as he was known to all, was born in Kilternan, Ireland, to English parents. His family moved to England in 1910, settling in Staines. He became interested in natural history after a visit to the natural history museum and later took to birdwatching, beginning to maintain a list of birds seen from 1913.[2]

He was educated at Sedbergh School in Cumbria and then Hertford College, Oxford from 1926, winning scholarships to both. At Oxford he read history, and visited Greenland and British Guiana as a founder member of the Oxford University Exploration Club. At Oxford he organized bird counts and censuses on the University's farm at Sanford.[1] In 1928, Nicholson created and managed the first national birdwatch survey, a survey of the grey heron.[3]

Ornithology and conservation

Nicholson already had published his first work in 1926, Birds in England, and had three similar books published soon after. In The Art of Bird-Watching (1931), he discussed the potential of co-operative birdwatching to inform the conservation debate. This led, in 1932, to the foundation of the British Trust for Ornithology, of which he was the first treasurer and later chairman (1947–1949). In 1947–1948, with the then director general of the United Nations' scientific and education organisation UNESCO, Julian Huxley, he was involved in forming the International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN) (now International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)).

In 1949 he oversaw Part 3 of The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 which established the Nature Conservancy, a British state research council for natural sciences and 'biological service', and allowed for the legal protection of National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). He replaced Captain Cyril Diver as Director General of the Nature Conservancy in 1952, serving until 1966, just after the Conservancy lost its independent status. During his leadership the Conservancy established itself as a research and management body which promoted ecology as having broad relevance and application to land use decision-making and management. Monks Wood Experimental Station, which helped set up, was perhaps the first to examine the effect of toxic chemicals on wildlife.[1]

In 1952, while in Baluchistan, he contracted polio, which left him with a limp. In 1961 Nicholson, together with Victor Stolan, Sir Peter Scott and Guy Mountfort, formed the organising group that created the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (now the World Wide Fund for Nature).[4] He was also a founder of the International Institute for Environment and Development. In 1966 he set up and headed environmental firm Land Use Consultants (LUC), remaining with them until 1989. One of LUC's first reports was 'Parkways in principle and Practice' (1967), in which Nicholson urged that "the problems of recreation, traffic, environmental quality and conservation should be studied together . .", to form a category of parkways in Britain.

From 1951 to 1960 he was the senior editor of "British Birds" and was the chief editor of The Birds of the Western Palearctic ("BWP", 1977–1994, OUP) from 1965–1992. He was the only author to stay with the project from start to end, personally writing the habitat sections of all species in the nine volumes.[1] In 1976 he was an instrumental part of the setting up of Britain's first urban ecology park[5] and the Trust for Urban Ecology. In 1978 Nicholson was instrumental in founding the ENDS Report which became a highly influential journal for environmental policy specialists. He was President of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds from 1980–1985, helped set up the New Renaissance Group and was a trustee of Earthwatch Europe. In 1995 he appeared as a guest on Desert Island Discs.[6]

Other activities

Nicholson's 1931 essay A National Plan for Britain led to the formation of the influential policy think tank Political and Economic Planning (PEP), now the Policy Studies Institute. Nicholson had strong ideas on how a country should be run and wrote a book "The System".

Nicholson joined the civil service in 1940, during World War II working for the Ministry of Shipping, then the Ministry of War Transport, attending conferences at Quebec and Cairo, and was with Winston Churchill at the post-war peace conferences at Yalta and Potsdam. From 1945 until 1952 he was private secretary to Herbert Morrison, the Deputy Prime Minister. He also chaired the committee for 1951's Festival of Britain. During the war years he was in charge of organizing shipping operations and convoys across the Atlantic. He was involved in the planning of "Operation Overlord", the invasion of Europe. For his services he was awarded the CVO and CB.[1]

Personal life

Nicholson married Mary Crawford in 1932 and they had two children, Piers and Tom. The marriage was dissolved in 1964 and Crawford died in 1995. Nicholson then married Marie Mauerhofer (known as Toni) in 1965; they had one child, a son, David. She died in 2002. Max Nicholson died in 2003, aged 98.


Every year on Nicholson's birthday, 12 July, a group of peopke walk a section of the Jubilee Walkway in London to celebrate his work in originating it.[7] Two memorial sundials have been put in place in memory of Nicholson - one by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at the WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes in south-west London and one by Sedbergh School in Cumbria, where Nicholson went to school.,

Selected publications

  • Birds In England (1926)
  • How Birds Live (1927)
  • The Art of Bird-Watching (1931)
  • The Humanist Frame (1961) (contribution)
  • The System: The Misgovernment of Modern Britain (1967)
  • The Environmental Revolution : A Guide for the New Masters of the World (1970)


  1. ^ a b c d e Perrins, CM (2005). "In memoriam: Edward Max Nicholson, 1904-2003". The Auk. 122 (1): 357. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2005)122[0357:imemn]2.0.co;2.
  2. ^ Vickers, Hugo (2003) Obituary The Independent. 29 April 2003
  3. ^ Guida, Michael (1 April 2019). "1928. Popular bird-watching becomes scientific: The first national bird census in Britain". Public Understanding of Science: 0963662519839555. doi:10.1177/0963662519839555. ISSN 0963-6625.
  4. ^ Kate Kellaway (7 November 2010). How the Observer brought the WWF into being The Observer.
  5. ^ Trust for Urban Ecology website
  6. ^ "Max Nicholson". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Max Nicholson - Environmentalist, ornithologist, author and administrator". www.maxnicholson.com. Retrieved 16 April 2019.

External links

1948 New Year Honours

The 1948 New Year Honours were appointments by many of the Commonwealth realms of King George VI to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries. They were announced on 1 January 1948 for the British Empire and New Zealand to celebrate the past year and mark the beginning of 1948.

The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour, with classes (Knight, Knight Grand Cross, etc.) and then divisions (Military, Civil, etc.) as appropriate.

1971 Birthday Honours

The 1971 Queen's Birthday Honours were appointments to orders and decorations of the Commonwealth realms to reward and highlight citizens' good works, on the occasion of the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. They were announced in supplements to The London Gazette of 4 June 1971 for the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, and Fiji.At this time honours for Australians were awarded both in the United Kingdom honours on the advice of the premiers of Australian states, and also in a separate Australia honours list.The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour, with classes (Knight, Knight Grand Cross, etc.) and then divisions (Military, Civil, etc.) as appropriate.

2003 in birding and ornithology

The year 2003 in birding and ornithology.

See also 2002 in birding and ornithology, main events of 2003, other specialist lists of events in 2003 and 2004 in birding and ornithology.

April 26

April 26 is the 116th day of the year (117th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 249 days remain until the end of the year.

Deaths in April 2003

The following is a list of notable deaths in April 2003.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship at birth, subsequent country of citizenship (if applicable), reason for notability, cause of death (if known), and reference.

Edward Nicholson

Edward Nicholson may refer to:

Edward Max Nicholson (1904–2003), founder of World Wildlife Fund

Edward Williams Byron Nicholson, Bodley's Librarian

Ed Nicholson (1923–1987), Canadian ice hockey player

List of alumni of Hertford College, Oxford

A list of alumni of Hertford College, Oxford, including alumni of its two predecessor institutions, Hart Hall and Magdalen Hall.

List of polio survivors

This is a list of notable people who have survived paralytic poliomyelitis. Poliomyelitis (often simply called polio) is an acute viral infection that involves the gastrointestinal tract and occasionally the central nervous system. Poliovirus is acquired by faecal-oral or oral transmission. Prior to the introduction of a vaccine in 1955, infection was common, with epidemics during the summer and autumn of temperate countries. An eradication programme has reduced the number of reported polio cases worldwide by more than 99% since the mid-1980s. Most infections are asymptomatic; a small number cause a minor illness that is indistinguishable from many other viral illnesses; less than 1% result in acute flaccid paralysis. This list only includes notable persons who had the paralytic form of polio. The extent of paralysis varies from part of a limb to quadriplegia and respiratory failure. The latter was often treated with an iron lung until, it was hoped, the patient recovered. Around 30–40 years after contracting paralytic poliomyelitis, about 25–40% of cases lead to post-polio syndrome. Symptoms include muscle pain, further weakening of muscles and paralysis.Surviving paralytic polio can be a life-changing experience. Individuals may be permanently physically disabled to varying degrees. Others remember the fear and isolation. Some continue to campaign for polio eradication or disability rights.

Marek Jerzy Tadeusz Mayer

Marek Mayer (1952–2005) was a prominent environmental journalist who influenced the development of UK environmental policy for over 25 years.

Mauricio González-Gordon y Díez

Mauricio González-Gordon y Díez, Marquis of Bonanza (18 October 1923 – 27 September 2013) was a Spanish sherry maker and a conservationist. Most of his life he worked for the family company, González Byass, where he increased its exports to a worldwide level. His family estate was located in the wetland region called Doñana in southern Spain and was threatened by drainage efforts in the early 1950s. González-Gordon with the help of researchers and international support managed to preserve the site, while at the same time donating some of his family land to the conservation effort. Afterward, González-Gordon became one of the founders of the Spanish Ornithological Society in 1954. His conservation efforts for Doñana culminated in the creation of the Doñana National Park in 1969. The area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Nicholson (name)

Nicholson is a Germanic surname. It is a patronymic form of the given name Nichol, which was a common medieval form of Nicholas.

Oxford University Exploration Club

The Oxford University Exploration Club was established in December 1927 by Edward Max Nicholson, Colin Trapnell and Charles Sutherland Elton.

The Club's aim is to support and advise students with planning original expeditions abroad. Recent expeditions to Tibet, the Congo, Greenland, Trinidad, Mongolia, Svalbard, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and the remote Comoros Islands have discovered new species of birds, insects and plants, published scientific papers on the rainforest canopy, found some of the world’s deepest caves, scaled unclimbed peaks and recorded the folk music of nomads; all in co-operation and collaboration with local people and organisations.

The Club was merged in 1965 with the Oxford University Women's Exploration Club (founded by Henrietta Hutton), with equal status granted for both male and female members.

Former members include:

Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton - Chairman 1932-33, member of the 1932 expedition to Sarawak in Borneo, organised by Tom Harrisson, along with the Oxford University Ellesmere Land Expedition (led by Gordon Noel Humphreys)

Wilfred Thesiger - Treasurer of the Club's Committee 1931-1932

Alex Hibbert

John Buchan - President 1930 - 1934

Gerald Harvey Thompson - assistant entomologist on the 1938 expedition to the Cayman Islands

James Fisher (naturalist) - Junior Treasurer 1932-34

Andrew Croft - Oxford University Arctic Expedition, 1935–36

Kenneth Mason (geographer) - Vice President 1933 - 1938Previous expeditions:

Oxford University Greenland Expedition, 1928

Oxford University British Guiana Expedition,1929

Oxford University Expedition to Lapland, 1930

Oxford University Hudson Strait Expedition, 1931

Oxford University Expedition to Sarawak (Borneo), 1932

Oxford University Arctic Expedition (Spitsbergen), 1933

Oxford University New Hebrides Expedition, 1933

Abyssinia Expedition, 1933

Oxford University Ellesmere Land Expedition, 1934-35

Oxford University Greenland Expedition 1935

Oxford University Arctic Expedition (North-East Land), 1935-36

Oxford University Greenland Expedition, 1936

The Faeroes Biological Expedition, 1937

Sedbergh School

Sedbergh School is a co-educational independent boarding school in the town of Sedbergh in Cumbria, in North West England. It comprises a junior school for children aged 4 to 13 and the main school. It was established in 1525.

Stamford Raffles Award

The Stamford Raffles Award is an award of the Zoological Society of London. It is "For distinguished contributions to zoology by amateur zoologists or professional zoologists in recognition of contributions which are outside the scope of their professional activities." The first awards were sculptures by Henry Moore called 'Animal Form', followed later by sculptures called 'Young Hippo' by Anita Mandl.

Trust for Urban Ecology

The Trust for Urban Ecology (TRUE) is a London-based ecological organisation and is part of The Conservation Volunteers (formerly BTCV). The Trust for Urban Ecology was founded in 1976 when ecologist Max Nicholson and a group of like-minded conservationists set up Britain's first urban ecology park.

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