25 October 2021

Former GWCT Director of Research awarded Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Society

Earlier this month, Professor Nick Sotherton was granted one of farming’s highest honours at an awards ceremony in the House of Lords, hosted by Lord Taylor of Holbeach FRAgS in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal.

Professor Sotherton led the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) research for 22 years until his retirement last year, and the fellowship from the English Panel of the Council for Awards of the Royal Agricultural Societies (CARAS) recognises his lifelong achievement in the farming sector. A Fellowship is a recognition of outstanding contribution by an individual to the understanding, efficiency and well-being of agriculture.

Jeremy Finnis & Nick Sotherton(l-r) Jeremy Finnis and Nick Sotherton were awarded their Fellowships at the House of Lords.

​​​​​​​Nick spent 44 years with the GWCT, ever since undertaking his PhD in 1976. His research includes the highly influential Cereals and Gamebirds Project, a national scheme that provided farmers with practical management plans for conserving gamebirds and other wildlife on arable farms, Through the project, he invented both beetle banks (raised strips of perennial grasses, situated strategically across arable fields, where predatory insects and spiders can overwinter before helping to control crop pests in spring) and conservation headlands (the selective spraying of cereal crop edges), and is widely acknowledged to have transformed cereal production and wildlife conservation.

On receiving the award, Nick said: “It is a great honour to be nominated for an RASE Fellowship both personally and for the GWCT, where all the farmland wildlife-friendly research originated and where the research was funded primarily by the farming community.”

Nick Green FRAgS, Chairman to the English Panel, said: “We are delighted to be able to organise such a fitting ceremony to highlight individual personal achievement in such a historical and grand setting. To have the event in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal is the icing on the cake, and as an apolitical organisation, we feel that our membership can really lead the industry to step even further forward.”

Also awarded a Fellowship was GWCT ex-officio trustee Jeremy Finnis, who chairs the GWCT’s Allerton Project demonstration farm. In a distinguished career starting at the Ministry of Agriculture, Jeremy worked directly with ministers during the UK Presidency of the EU in 1992 and on a further secondment to the President of the NFU on food marketing policy. He has served as chairman of the NFU Mutual Advisory Board for the East of England and farms in partnership with his wife and family in South Essex.

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Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Kate Williams
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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