100 years ago today our founder Charles Rothschild invented the idea of the nature reserve
Nathaniel Charles Rothschild (1877-1923) was an entomologist, a pioneer of nature conservation in Britain and the inspirational founder and first Chairman of the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves – the organisation that went on to become The Wildlife Trusts.
A man before his time, he argued for protecting not only individual species but whole natural habitats, and was convinced that conservation policy had to be based on sound survey and research. He saw Britain as part of the European, and indeed international, conservation scene and recognised the need to attract the support of influential individuals of the time, and to promote his ideas to a wider public.
He published his first scientific paper The Lepidoptera of Harrow while still a schoolboy, and had been round the world twice by the age of 26. He discovered the plague vector flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) in Egypt which he described and named in 1903. He joined the family banking firm of N M Rothschild & Sons in London where he was responsible for the management of the Royal Mint Refinery, a business run by the bank from 1852.
It was in May 1912 that he was finally able to progress his ideas on protecting sites for wildlife.