The Wildlife Trusts partnership is the UK’s leading conservation charity exclusively dedicated to wildlife. Our network of 47 local Wildlife Trusts and our junior branch, Wildlife Watch, work together to protect wildlife in towns and the countryside.
We care for over 2,560 nature reserves from rugged coastline to urban wildlife havens. With more than 560,000 members, and unparalleled grass roots expertise, The Wildlife Trusts lobby for better protection of the UK's natural heritage and are dedicated to protecting wildlife for the future.
More information about the work that we do is available in our 10-Point Conservation Plan.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WILDLIFE TRUSTS
1912 - The Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (SPNR) was established by Charles Rothschild in 1912. He compiled a list of 240 special “nature sites” with a vision to promote them as worthy of protection. He did this by setting up a network of nature reserves through the co-operative efforts of government, landowners and naturalists.
1919 - SPNR acquired its first nature reserve, Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire.
1926 - The Norfolk Naturalists’ Trust was established to purchase Cley Marshes in Norfolk, which became the first Trust reserve acquired in the same year.
1948 - The Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Trust was established, followed by several more in the 1950s such as West Wales in 1956, West Midlands in 1957 and Surrey in 1959.
1962 - Christopher Cadbury became President of SPNR.
1964 - With the formation of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, 36 Trusts covered the whole of the UK.
1968 - The first major Trust visitor centre opened at Woods Mill, Sussex.
1970 - The badger logo first appeared on a ‘in-house’ newsletter called Conservation Review.
1976 - By the mid 1970s, the total membership of the Trusts had risen to 100,000 and the number of nature reserves to 850 covering almost 60,000 acres.
1976 - SPNR changed its name to the Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservation to reflect its broader role beyond nature reserves.
1977 - The junior branch, Wildlife Watch, is formed and in the same year HRH The Prince of Wales became its Patron.
1981 - The Society changed its name to the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (RSNC) and its UK magazine, Natural World is launched.
Reflecting growing public interest in the environment, there was a phenomenal increase in the number of reserves acquired in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Education and work in urban areas started to develop fast.
1992 - The Urban Wildlife Partnership is formed to co-ordinate the urban wildlife movement in the UK.
1995 - The name 'The Wildlife Trusts’ is chosen as the name by which the partnership of local Trusts was to become known. Many of the local Trusts changed their name to include “Wildlife Trust” and began using the badger logo as part of the UK identity.
1995 - Dr. Simon Lyster was appointed to lead the partnership as its first Director General.
1996 - The Wildlife Trusts received a £25 million commitment from the Heritage Lottery Fund to underake capital works on its nature reserves.
1997 - The Wildlife Trusts became part of a partnership that launched an appeal and succeeded in buying Eigg, a spectacular island off the west coast of Scotland.
1998 - The Water UK and The Wildlife Trusts Otters and Rivers Project was launched, a major £1.5 million UK-wide programme aiming to bring back the otter to all UK rivers by 2010.
2000 - Essex Wildlife Trust bought Abbotts Hall Farm, 170 acres of salt marsh, coastal grassland and mudflats with around 550 acres of conventional arable farmland, and thus working on the UK’s largest ever managed retreat project.
2001 - Alderney became 47th Wildlife Trust.
2001 - Glamorgan Wildlife Trust and West Wales Wildlife Trust merge to become The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales reducing the number of Trusts in the partnership to 46.
2002 - The Isles of Scilly became the 47th Wildlife Trust.
2002 - Membership of The Wildlife Trusts passed the 400,000 figure.
2003 - Membership of The Wildlife Trusts reached 560,000.
2004 - The Society changes its name to Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts