It was with great sadness that we received news of the death of the naturalist, presenter and environmental campaigner David Bellamy. As an exuberant and enthusiastic television presenter in the 1970s and early eighties, he almost single-handedly lifted botany out of relative obscurity and into the front rooms of millions, leading to a greater appreciation of plants among the wider public. He was also well known for his environmental activism and, latterly, for his controversial views on climate change.
It is a bittersweet irony – but somehow fitting – that he passed away on 11th December, the date on which Fauna & Flora International (FFI) was founded some 116 years ago. In his capacity first as a trustee and then – since 1982 – as vice-president of FFI, David provided sterling support to this organisation for almost four decades. It is no coincidence that FFI’s name was changed to include the word ‘flora’ in the very same year that he was appointed as a trustee.
Mark Rose, Chief Executive of FFI, paid this personal tribute: “I knew and worked with David for over 30 years. He was a wonderful man whose energy and enthusiasm knew no bounds. Whether it be saving a peat bog in East Anglia, where I first met him, or conserving a variety of habitats internationally in South Africa, Malaysia and New Zealand, David always made time to do the right thing.”
David’s passing marks the end of an era and draws a veil over his near 40-year association with FFI, but his legacy lives on in the wide-ranging plant conservation projects that are such a prominent and increasing feature of FFI’s work today.