Conservationist who inspired the creation of wildlife trusts and nature reserves

In the school summer holiday of 1937, the conservationist Ted Smith, who has died aged 95, cycled 14 miles from his home in rural Lincolnshire to Gibraltar Point. The sixth-former took his cheap binoculars to look for terns on this lonely stretch of sand and salt marsh beyond Skegness and, surrounded by sky and sea, he fell in love with the place. He noted three “gaudy new houses” on a road cut into the sand dunes, typical of the unrestrained development then enveloping the British coastline.

A passion for wildlife and its habitats fired Smith for the rest of his life. This unassuming teacher battled against the tides of his time, industrial agriculture, toxic pesticides, the supplanting of ancient woods with conifers, the ploughing of heaths, and urban development, to cajole into existence a national network of 47 conservation charities now known as the Wildlife Trusts. Smith combined practical action – saving the last fragments of heath, meadow and coast (including Gibraltar Point) from destruction in Lincolnshire – with farsighted thinking, stressing the importance of landscape-scale conservation and the need to open the trusts’ 2,300 nature reserves to the public.

Continue reading…
Source: Guardian Environment