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Friday, January 31, 2003

A new chair in field ornithology at Oxford University's Zoology Department has been created thanks to an endowment, it was announced this week. The Luc Hoffman Chair of Field Ornithology will secure the future Directorship of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology.

Luc Hoffman is a Doctor in Zoology from the University of Basel, Switzerland, with a particular interest in field ornithology and wetlands conservation. He has been a key player in international conservation for many years, as co-founder and Vice President of WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature), director of IWRB (now Wetlands International) and Vice President of the IUCN (World Conservation Union). He is also an Honorary Life fellow of the UK's Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and was instrumental in the ratification of the only habitat-specific international convention in existence today, the Ramsar Convention.

The Chair is being funded by an endowment from Dr Hoffman's family to celebrate his 80th birthday. The holder, who will be appointed later this year, will also be Director of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology (EGI). The EGI was established in 1938 to carry out research and training in field ornithology and currently has 38 members (of which I am one) conducting research in 10 countries. It houses one of the world's foremost ornithological libraries, the Alexander Library, and is responsible for the world's longest continuous study of bird populations , at Wytham Woods near Oxford.

This is extremely good news for the EGI, whose Directorship became uncertain due to funding contraints when the former Director Professor Chris Perrins retired in September last year. Dr Ben Sheldon is acting as Head of the EGI until the new Chair is appointed.