Since we lost Tom Lovejoy on Dec. 25, 2021, I find myself thinking of him often and missing him dearly.
Tom was WWF’s first scientist. Hired in the 1970s by Russ Train, founder and chairman emeritus of WWF, he later headed our global conservation program. I worked with him and for him until he moved to the Smithsonian Institution and we stayed in regular touch thereafter as colleagues and friends. And of course, after leaving WWF, Tom gave ever so generously of himself as a Board and National Council member.
Tom’s passion for science and for nature was infectious. He brought scores to the research site he created outside Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon, many of them policymakers who came away inspired by their forest experience and convinced of the critical importance of protecting tropical biodiversity. He was a tireless and engaging speaker and advocate for conservation before scientific, policy, and popular audiences. His reach was extraordinary, as was his impact.
It’s with that legacy in mind that I am delighted to announce that WWF is dedicating the annual science symposium to Tom. The symposium has its origins in conversations Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF, and I had in the months before he took over about supporting science at WWF. We challenged the science team to design an initiative and the Science for Nature program, with the symposium as its centerpiece, was the result. Tom, needless to say, was an active participant in and supporter of that work. Given Tom’s remarkable contributions to WWF and to nature conservation as a whole, I suggested to Carter that WWF prominently and durably celebrate the inimitable Tom Lovejoy by renaming the symposium in his honor.
I hope you’ll all join me in attending the Thomas Lovejoy Science for Nature Symposium on Oct. 17, virtually or in person in Washington, D.C. Fittingly, the first symposium carrying his name will focus on the Amazon.