Ian Swingland

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Ian Swingland
Ian Swingland.jpg
Born Ian Richard Swingland
(1946-11-02) 2 November 1946 (age 70)
Barnet, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Biodiversity; academia, business and charities
Years active 1968–present

Professor Ian Swingland founded DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology) at the University of Kent in 1989. It is now recognised as one of the first interdisciplinary research and postgraduate training institutes in the world concentrating on biodiversity, communities and sustainable development. While at DICE he served as director and was elected to the first Chair in Conservation Biology in the United Kingdom.

Since 1969 Ian Swingland has worked variously as a staff consultant with bilateral/multilateral agencies and companies in conservation and biodiversity management, and advisor or member of governmental and non-governmental organizations in a number of countries. He has occupied visiting chairs on four continents, developing international partnerships, joint postgraduate programs, and carrying on his research both in evolutionary ecology, biodiversity management and sustainable development. His current conservation activities centre on sustainable conservation, agriculture and resource management particularly public-private sector management of ecosystems and conservation. Throughout his career Ian Swingland has been responsible for policy, planning, and implementation, and particularly in the last three decades for establishing and developing world-class initiatives and organizations.

Swingland is a donor to a large number of worthwhile causes which help people directly including Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology Scholarship programme and its own trust, the Durrell Trust for Conservation Biology, Hadlow College, Acid Survivors Foundation Uganda, Penan people, Kafue Trust which helps the Kafue National Park, Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development, Samburu and Il Ngwesi Maasai in northern Kenya.

Early years, education and academic career[edit]

Ian Swingland is the son and only child of Flora Mary (née Fernie), born 1924 in Newcastle of Scottish parents who trained at Queen Elizabeth's School for Girls, and Mrs. Hoster’s Secretarial College where she was recruited by Special Operations Executive before working as a Senior Lecturer in the Polytechnic of Central London (which became the University of Westminster), and Hugh Maurice Webb Swingland, born 1922, an electrical engineer who rose to the rank of Director, MoD Procurement Executive after serving in the Royal Navy North Sea minesweepers during World War II. Swingland was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, London, followed by London, Edinburgh and Oxford Universities. At London University, he read zoology and social anthropology and published his first scientific paper on the location of memory in a vertebrate in Nature in 1969 while an undergraduate. After working for Shell Research International for a short time, he took a PhD in ecology in the Forestry and Natural Resources Department at Edinburgh University on a Department for International Development (formerly Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Overseas Development Administration) Scholarship and subsequently worked as a research and management biologist in the Kafue National Park, Zambia for the Government. In 1974 he joined Oxford University Zoology Department for five years funded by NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) and the Royal Society to work on the giant tortoises of Aldabra Atoll, Western Indian Ocean. He has been, or is, a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, University of Florence, University of Auckland, Manchester Metropolitan University and Beijing Forestry University and has worked as a research mathematician for Royal Dutch Shell at Sittingbourne, Kent UK.

In 1979 he was appointed to the University of Kent to create their Natural Science Continuing Education programme where he played a significant role in creating the national Access course which is designed for people who would like to study in higher education but who left school without the usual qualifications, and ten years later founded DICE.


DICE (The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology) is a multi-disciplinary research and postgraduate conservation training institute which has always maintained its commitment to the ideals set out at its founding in 1989: 'to fuse the accumulated experience of practical conservation projects and state of the art biological science with realistic perspectives of economics and the social sciences'. The name was chosen in recognition of Ian Swingland’s good friend, Gerald Durrell, and his lifelong commitment to conservation. Swingland retired from the University in 1999 because of ill health, which continues to deteriorate, but serves as Professor Emeritus, and as Patron of the Durrell Trust for Conservation Biology which raises grants, scholarships and endowments for DICE so that it can expand its mission.

Involvement with other enterprises[edit]

As well as DICE, Ian Swingland has founded many other enterprises and institutions such as: the Herpetological Conservation Trust 1989 (renamed the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust [1]), an international NGO and the international journal Biodiversity and Conservation 1989, the world’s first multidisciplinary journal in biodiversity management and sustainable development.[2] He also co-founded a number of companies (such as Sustainable Forestry Management) which apply business and market approaches to benefiting conservation, biodiversity and people on an integrated, sustainable and ethical basis [3] and co-founded, with Neil Wates and Sir Colin Spedding, the think-tank RURAL (Responsible Use of Resources in Agriculture and on the Land) in 1980.

He was a draftsman of part of the Convention on Biological Diversity concerning fair and equitable sharing of benefits (PrepComm UNEP Nairobi 1990) and was asked by Sir Peter Scott to create the IUCN/SSC (International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission) Tortoise Specialist Group in 1981 which is now the Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group.

As with the international agencies, Ian Swingland has had a lifelong involvement in national and international charities which improve the environment and people’s standard of living. He has influenced them to increasingly structure projects to become self-funding, economic sustainability being a precursor of environmental sustainability. He is Director Emeritus and former Trustee of Earthwatch 1999-2009, and is a founding Trustee, former Chair and now Trust Patron of Operation Wallacea since 2010. The Trust funds projects which seek to empower communities and individuals to develop successful commercially viable enterprises linked to the protection of biodiversity. Funding for nature conservation projects often includes provision of alternative livelihoods but in many cases these alternatives are not then linked to enhanced protection of the wildlife and habitats. He is also a co-Founder and former chair of the Rural Regeneration Unit, a Social Enterprise dedicated to self-help projects and a substantial food co-operative which has won prizes from the World Health Organisation and Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, and the Durrell Trust for Conservation Biology, the Trust dedicated to supporting DICE. He has served on the RSPCA Council 1990-1995 and as Chair of its Wildlife Committee 1985-1990, as well as delivering their 150th Anniversary Lecture. Since 1985 he has served at various times on the Council of Fauna & Flora International and has been the longest standing board member to the Darwin Initiative, which funds multi-sectoral international projects in biodiversity management for the UK government. He was Chair of the Apple and Pear Research Council from 1997, now part of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board since 2003, and is a benefactor of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and Ambassador to the Galapagos Conservation Trust. He supported the founding of Great Oaks Small School, Sandwich which specializes in those who have difficulty in benefiting from conventional mainstream education. His son Kieran was one of the first five students.

Most recently he was invited (2010,2012) by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning Formas and Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsrådet to evaluate their biodiversity and Linnaeus research programmes throughout the country. He is currently collaborating on his biography and writing a novel centred on murder and corruption set against a backdrop of wildlife conservation in remote and isolated places.

International conservation work[edit]

As well as being an advisor on conservation and biodiversity management to the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the Asian Development Bank, and the UK Government,[4] he has also had many other international conservation involvements such as: being employed as a research and management biologist in the Kafue National Park, Zambia, helping to write the management plan; and one of the largest single biodiversity project in the world extending over the largest mangrove forest, the Sundarban Biodiversity Conservation Project in Bangladesh.[5] Professor Swingland has been heavily involved with the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development, the largest biodiversity project [6] belonging to the Commonwealth and was appointed Chairman of the International Board of Trustees (2002) by The President of Guyana and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat under the Patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales. This 369,000 hectare reserve initiative has transformed itself from a top down donor-dependent project to a more market-driven organisation that works closely with the local community, the Rupununi. He also advised China on integrated ecosystem management projects,[7] its aim was to reduce land degradation, create alternative livelihoods, and conserve biodiversity using a market, not donation, approach. He led the Indian Ocean and Galapagos part of Operation Drake, and was a member of one of the largest UK scientific expeditions, the Royal Geographical Society Expedition to the rainforest of Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak.

Since being recognised for his work in conservation, he has branched out into other areas including co-founding a UK food co-operative, the Rural Regeneration Unit, and the Operation Wallacea Trust, funding projects which empower communities and individuals to develop successful commercially viable enterprises linked to the protection of biodiversity. Funding for nature conservation projects often includes provision of alternative livelihoods but in many cases these alternatives are not then linked to enhanced protection of the wildlife and habitats. The Trust is unique in pioneering the concept of tying enterprise development and investment to contracts with the communities agreeing to alternative means of livelihood e.g. including forest and threatened species conservation contracts (Wildlife Conservation Products scheme) and a fishing license scheme that replaces income to protect reef habitats (carrageenan extraction plant). It also provides data for, and funds, an R&D programme in the Biodiversity Institute, University of Oxford assessing Ecological Value of Landscapes Beyond Protected Areas and developing a web portal that could be used by investors wishing to compare forests for REDD+ funding.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Ian Swingland was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours List for 2007 for his services to conservation.[8] He was given an honorary Doctor of Sciences by the University of Kent for his service to biodiversity conservation.[9] He was awarded the Freedom of London 2001 and made an Honorary Bioscience Fellow, Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International, 2002. He is a Fellow of the Zoological Society (FZS) 1974 and a member of the Athenaeum Club, London 2004.

Published works[edit]

The Ecology of Animal Movement Swingland, IR, Greenwood, PG (editors). (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983) ISBN 0-19-857575-0

Living in a Patchy Environment Shorrocks, B and Swingland, IR (editors). (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) Hardback ISBN 0-19-854591-6 Softback ISBN 978-0-19-854591-0

Integrated Protected Area Management Walkey, M, Swingland, IR and Russell, S.(editors) (MA and Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999) ISBN 0-412-80360-7

Carbon, Biodiversity, Conservation and Income: An analysis of a free market approach to Land use change and forestry in Developing and Developed Countries. Swingland IR,. Bettelheim EC, Grace J, Ghillean T, Prance and Lindsay, Saunders S (compilers) Theme Issue for the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 2002

Capturing carbon and conserving biodiversity: the market approach Swingland IR (editor), (Royal Society-Earthscan, 2003) 392 pp. Hardback ISBN 978-1-85383-950-4, Softback 392 pp ISBN 978-1-85383-951-1

CO2 e biodiversità: Un approccio integrato a favore del clima e del patrimonio naturale. Swingland I.R. (editor). (Edizioni Ambiente, Milano, Italy, 2004) 296 pp. ISBN 88-89014-19-9

Integrated Wetland Management: Symposium of International Workshop on Integrated Wetlands Management. Niu Z., Swingland I.R., Lei G. (editors).(Asian Development Bank PRC-7021 & China Ocean Press 2012) In English 255pp, in Mandarin 183pp. Softback ISBN 978-7-5027-8414-0

In excess of fifty papers published in books and journals such as Nature, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Journal of Zoology London, Journal of Animal Ecology, Animal Behaviour, and Proceedings of the Royal Society.


  1. ^ Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust http://www.arc-trust.org/
  2. ^ Biodiversity and Conservation http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/evolutionary+%26+developmental+biology/journal/10531
  3. ^ Capturing Carbon and Conserving Biodiversity: The Market Approach – see published works. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1853839507
  4. ^ Report No. PID7208 Project Name Bangladesh-Gorai River Restoration Project http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?print=Y&menuPK=228424&pagePK=64283627&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&Projectid=P055290 ; Ningxia Integrated Ecosystem and Agricultural Development Project http://www.adb.org/documents/brochures/adb-gef/PRC-GEF.pdf ; Protected Area Mgt. and Wildlife Conservation Project : Sri Lanka http://pid.adb.org/pid/LoanView.htm?projNo=31381&seqNo=03&typeCd=2&projType=GRNT
  5. ^ Sundarban Biodiversity Conservation Project http://www.adb.org/Documents/PCRs/BAN/30032-BAN-PCR.pdf
  6. ^ Iwokrama Newsletter - September Issue http://www.iwokrama.org/newsletter/augissue.html
  7. ^ PRC-GEF Partnership on Land Degradation in Dryland Ecosystems, www.adb.org/documents/brochures/adb-gef/PRC-GEF.pdf
  8. ^ New Year Honours List for 2007 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/30_12_06_hons_main.pdf http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/58196/supplements/13
  9. ^ University of Kent http://www.kent.ac.uk/about/hongrads/honorary-grad00.html

External links[edit]