My tribute to Prince Philip, a conservation champion

 In Education, News

Prince Philip, who died last Friday morning at Windsor Castle aged 99, was a conservation champion well ahead of his time, says Midlands environment expert Ron Fox.

“His efforts to promote the natural world were considerable and if world leaders had taken his warning seriously years ago in the 1950s, then the effects of climate change would not have been as damaging as they are today,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.

“He encouraged conservation long before it became fashionable.”

The late Duke of Edinburgh helped found the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Switzerland on April 29, 1961, an international non-governmental organisation specialising in preserving wildernesses and reducing human impact on the environment.

He became president of the WWF’s British National Appeal in the same year and then became worldwide president from 1981-1996.

In 1970 he gave his name to the charity’s Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Award.

He was also involved in launching the Australian Conservation Foundation in 1963 and wrote several books, including Wildlife Crisis in 1970 about the threats faced by many of the planet’s most exquisite creatures.

The Queen’s late husband toured the world to draw attention to the plight of endangered wildlife by photographing the problems of poaching, deforestation and pollution.

Close friend and naturalist Sir David Attenborough said the Duke was a “very effective and very rigorous” president of the World Wide Fund (WWF) charity.

The Duke of Edinburgh told the BBC in 2011 that if we as humans have got this power of not just life and death, but extinction and survival, we ought to exercise it with some sort of moral sense.

He added that all these other creatures have an equal right to exist and we have no prior rights to the earth than anybody else and if they’re here let’s give them a chance to survive. If we’ve got this extraordinary diversity on this globe, it seems awfully silly for us to destroy it, he said.

We depend on being part of the web of life, we depend on every other living thing on this planet, just as much as they depend on us. Why make something extinct if we don’t have to?

“People have to remember,” said Ron, “that the Duke was pioneering his environmental work in the 1950s when climate change, the greenhouse effect and the state of the natural world were not recognised as the crisis they are today.

“The majority of people were quite unaware than that we were heading for ecological disasters.”

For more details about conservation and the environment, call Ron on 0845 474 6641.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will take place this Saturday (April 17) at 3pm in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The private family only service, which will be televised, will begin with a National Minute’s Silence at three o’clock. It will be preceded by a ceremonial procession inside the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Caption: The Duke of Edinburgh, a conservation champion, who died last Friday aged 99. Picture: Wikipedia.

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