Arthur Tansley

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"Tansley provided his generation of botanists with a vehicle for exchanging information and opinion when in 1902 he founded the New Phytologist. He was only 30 years old. His influence grew steadily and he is now recognised as the father of British ecology.

"His drive helped found the British Vegetation Committee, which in 1913 evolved into the British Ecological Society. He was its first President and soon Editor of its Journal of Ecology. He served immediately after WWII on the government committee looking at the establishment of national nature reserves. The outcome was the establishment of the Nature Conservancy (UK) in 1949. Tansley was its first Chairman. He was already President of the Council for the Promotion of Field Studies (now the Field Studies Council)...

"Attracted in mid-life to psychology, and following publication in 1920 of his The New Psychology and Its Relation to Life, Tansley studied with Sigmund Freud in Vienna... In contrast to Tansley’s mechanistic views, South African ecologists, led by Jan Smuts, Prime Minister and war-hero, argued for an idealistic ecology, an integral part of which was the supremacy of one human race over another..." [1] wiki George Macaulay Trevelyan was "one of Tansley’s few close friends... Tansley used Trevelyan’s much-quoted propagandist piece Must England’s Beauty Perish?139 to introduce his own propagandist volume Our Heritage of Wild Nature: A Plea for Organized Nature Conservation, published by the Cambridge University Press in 1945." [1]


  • Anker, Peder (2001). Imperial ecology: environmental order in the British Empire, 1895–1945. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Ayres, P. G. (2012). Shaping ecology: The life of Arthur Tansley. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

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  1. New Phytologist The Man, organizational web page, accessed June 7, 2013.