Before 1912, emphasis was placed on trying to protect individual species. Rothschild’s plan was different: to safeguard the places where wildlife lived – the moors, meadows, woods and fens under attack from rapid modernisation. An expert entomologist, Rothschild succeeded in enlisting the support of 50 Fellows of the Royal Society, the Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey and future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, while the Speaker of the House of Commons, James Lowther MP, became the first president.
From that spark of an idea – and the 339 acres of wild fenland in Cambridgeshire that Rothschild bought himself to save for nature – grew a movement across the UK that would see a network of Wildlife Trusts acquiring and managing land.
For more information on the history of The Wildlife Trusts visit the organisation's website