David Nicholson-Lord (1947-2014)
David grew up in Denton, near Manchester and attended William Hume Grammar School. As a schoolboy he had already shown great interest in wildlife and was an enthusiastic bird watcher. After graduating from Christ’s College Cambridge in 1970, he embarked on a career in journalism which would span four decades. His first job as a reporter was at the Exeter Express and Echo. This led to his becoming deputy night news editor at The Times in less than nine years. As a mainstream news journalist, David covered many high profile cases, including the national steel strike of 1978, the Brixton riots of 1981, the trial of serial killer Denis Nilson and Thatcher’s controversial visit to Northern Ireland.
During the next decade with the Times, the environment and sustainability issues became his focus, passion and specialism at the paper. David took a short sabbatical to Wolfson College, Cambridge, where he was selected as the first press fellow. At the same time, he was the Director of ‘Think Green’ - the national campaign for livable towns and cities. It was during this time that David’s first major book, The Greening of the Cities (1987), was first published.
In 1990 David moved to the new Independent on Sunday as its environment editor. In 1995 he went freelance. This stage of his career saw him feature heavily in many broadcast newspapers, BBC Wildlife, Resurgence and the New Statesman, He also worked extensively for not for profit organisations and campaigns. In this capacity he held positions as the deputy chair for the New Economics Foundation, chair of the Urban Wildlife Network and policy director of Population Matters, formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust. By 2006, David was voted in the top ten most influential promoters of Urban Biodiversity and Human Nature, according to English Nature. He was also a course director and lecturer at City University, London, and taught journalism courses globally. His reputation as an author grew further after the publication of his book Planet Earth - The Making Of An Epic Series in 2006 for the BBC following the worldwide popularity of the programme. David’s last book, Downrising - The Coming Apocalypse, written over a period of seven years, was his first and only work of fiction.
From 1986-9 David was the editor of the Dulwich Society Newsletter, the forerunner to the current Journal. He introduced a new professionalism and featured items of general local interest as well as significant articles on our relationship with the environment. He continued, until his progressive illness precluded it, to be very active in the Dulwich Society, organising a debate about the problem of subsidence and getting insurance cover for buildings where trees featured near properties, as well as persuading those responsible for the running of parks and open spaces to be aware of the urgent need to maintain a balance with nature. He successfully campaigned for more trees to enhance air quality, to leave margins around sports fields unmown to encourage wildlife.
He had great influence on the final plan for the restoration of Dulwich Park after its grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in that he persuaded the designers to include a woodland perimeter walk (extensively used by dog-walkers!). When further funds became available from the demise of the Dulwich Village Preservation Society David planned the planting of the Village Copse. He was also successful in obtaining a grant under CGS funding to plant the now established wildlife hedge in Belair Park.
Obituary David Nicholson-Lord (1947-2014)