Wildlife Trusts honour their founder

Avocet
Wildlife Trust reserves are a haven for birds like the Avocet Photo: ITV Anglia

No one seems to have a nice word to say about bankers these days but today we're honouring one of them. A hundred years ago banker and naturalist Charles Rothschild set up a movement in Norfolk that led to the formation of the Wildlife Trusts.

Not surprisingly then, The Norfolk Wildlife Trust is the oldest in the country.

Cley marshes on the North Norfolk coast is one of the flagship reserves in Britain and people, like the birds, flock here in their thousands.

It was bought in 1926 to be held "in perpetuity as a bird breeding sanctuary".

But 14 years before that Charles Rothschild formed the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves which eventually became the Wildlife Trusts.

Two years earlier he'd bought Woodwalton Fen in Cambridgeshire. By then almost all of the wild fens surrounding it had been drained for agriculture. He built a bungalow at Woodwalton to observe nature and it was there he helped move the focus from saving species to protecting the habitats in which they live.

Rothschild was clearly a visionary. Thanks to him there are 47 Wildlife Trusts around the country with more than 800,000 members.