Max Nicholson, one of the world's great conservationists and a founder of WWF, has died at the age of 98. Right to the last, he continued to take an active interest in WWF's work, and attended functions as recently as last year.
As well as founding WWF with Sir Peter Scott, Sir Julian Huxley and others in 1961, Max Nicholson was also instrumental in founding Earthwatch, the Nature Conservancy, the British Trust for Ornithology and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), now the World Conservation Union. He was a Vice-President of WWF-UK right up to the time of his death, and was also Vice-President of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and an Honorary Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union. In the 1980s he was President of the RSPB."His contribution to nature conservation cannot be overstated," said Robert Napier, Chief Executive of WWF. "He was a towering figure, the likes of which we shall probably never see again."In an interview with WWF News, our members' magazine, to mark the 40th anniversary of WWF, Max Nicholson remarked, "WWF has put wildlife on the map in a way that had never been imagined. Before WWF, it wasn't conceived as something that governments should take action about. It is now." That was largely thanks to him and his other far-sighted founding colleagues.In addition to his lifetime's work with nature, Max Nicholson was also prominent in other areas of British public life. As a senior civil servant, he headed Herbert Morrison's office in the first post-war Labour government, and he chaired the 1951 Festival of Britain committee. He was also Secretary of the Duke of Edinburgh's Study Conference on the Countryside in 1970, and later became involved in population issues.Max Nicholson was also a prolific author. Among his many books were The Environment Revolution (1970), The New Environmental Age (1987), and nine volumes of The Birds of the Western Palearctic (1977-1994).In 1971 Max Nicholson was appointed Commander of the Victorian Order, a private award for personal services to the Royal Family. He was also a Companion of the Bath, commemorating his work in the civil service. He is survived by three sons.