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Priest, scientist bags national award

22 Jun 2009

An acclaimed ecologist from The University of Manchester is to receive a prestigious award by one of the discipline's leading bodies.

Professor John Rodwell
Professor John Rodwell

Anglican Priest Professor John Rodwell will be presented with the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management's President's Medal for his services to ecology and conservation this week (25 June).

He follows in the footsteps of Sir David Attenborough who won the award for his contribution to the public understanding of ecology in 2006 and Professor Tony Bradshaw, for his lifelong work on land restoration in 2007.

The presentation will be made by Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, at a reception at the Institute of Directors in London.

Professor Rodwell said: "I am most honoured to think that I have made such a difference to the quality of environmental work and to the way we treasure the diversity and beauty of the natural world.”

Professor Rodwell coordinated the 16-year National Vegetation Classification programme for the UK Government and edited the five-volume classic British Plant Communities, published by Cambridge University Press.

He works now for environment agencies, both here and overseas, providing research and expert advice.

An Anglican Priest for over 30 years - and Honorary Canon of Blackburn Cathedral - he is also known for his research on how religious belief affects our care of nature.

He added: “Religious people sometimes have a reputation for not being very interested in the physical world.

“But the world and all that lives in it is of great interest to me and is one of the reasons I became a scientist.

'Being a priest also prompts me to look at aspects of nature that are not so easily measured and provides another language to describe how much our fellow creatures matter.”

Now an Honorary Research Fellow at Manchester University's Lincoln Theological Institute, he directs a project in the UK and Germany on how people and nature can belong together in places much threatened by change.

Notes for editors

The ‘Belonging and Heimat’ project at the Lincoln Theological Institute will involve academics in theology and ecology, practitioners in regeneration and landscape architecture and Christians in Germany and the UK. A book will be published on its completion. It is supported by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the University of Manchester.

The Heimat & Belonging Project has developed from research on a theological critique of sustainability carried out by Professor Rodwell for the M.B. Reckitt Trust , a charitable foundation that funds work challenging social and economic assumptions and releasing energy for change.

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Mike Addelman
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Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881 567
michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk