Zoologist and conservationist Professor Geoffrey Matthews dies aged 89
ZOOLOGIST and international conservationist Professor Geoffrey Matthews has died at the age of 89.
Prof Matthews, who was director of research for many years at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, died peacefully on Monday, January 21 at his home in Minchinhampton where he had lived with his wife Mary for nearly 30 years.
A pioneer of waterbird and wetland conservation, Prof Matthews wrote numerous scientific papers after receiving his PhD on bird navigation from Cambridge University in 1950.
He became director of research at WWT in 1955 and dedicated the next three decades of his life running a team of scientists studying waterfowl both at Slimbridge and in the wild.
At the same time Prof Matthews continued his study of bird navigation, and supervised PhD students at the universities of Bristol and Cardiff.
Locally Prof Matthews was a founding member of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and studied bats at Woodchester Mansion.
He was also the environmentalist on the first Severn Barrage enquiry in the late 1970s.
Prof Matthews played an influential role in shaping Government legislation, most importantly the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which gave statutory protection to Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Prof Matthews is also renowned as one of the founding fathers of the Ramsar Convention - an international treaty for the conservation and sustainability of wetlands.
He received the British Ornithologists' Union Medal in 1980 and the RSPB Medal in 1990.
In 1986 he was appointed OBE, and in 1987 an Officer of the Order of the Golden Ark by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for his services to conservation.
A man with a keen sense of humour, the tribute that perhaps gave him the greatest pleasure was the naming in his honour of a newly discovered feather louse Ð ornithobius matthewsi.
Prof Matthews was also interested in fossil hunting and had an extensive stamp collection, concentrating on birds and wildlife.
Former president of Hampton Probus group, Prof Matthews was thrice married and leaves behind his wife Mary and his two sons and two daughters.