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Professor Sir John Hartley Lawton, CBE, FRS (born 24 September 1943) is a British ecologist and chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and former head of Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). His interests have focused on the population dynamics and biodiversity of birds and insects, with emphasis over the last decade on the impacts of global environmental change on wild plants and animals. He was instrumental in establishing The Royal Society for the Protection of Bird’s strategy for protecting landscapes. He has made major contributions to environmental NGOs, including a five year period as Chairman of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and a trustee of WWF UK.

Presented in April 2004 an award by the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan including a certificate of merit, a commemorative medal and a cash award of 50 million Yen. The award was presented during the 2004 Japan Prize week in April 2004 in the presence of many honourable and distinguished guests. The Japan prize is an international prize established in 1985 to recognise scientists who have made original and outstanding achievements in science and technology, thus contributing to the progress of science and technology and the promotion of peace and prosperity of mankind.

Lawton has been outspoken on the issue of global warming and is reported to have said “The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms [in the context of hurricane Katrina] is very likely to be due to global warming… If this makes the climate loonies in the States realize we’ve got a problem, some good will come out of a truly awful situation”.


  • He studied zoology at the University of Durham, PhD in 1969. Since then he has held several university posts and has served on a wide range of committees and bodies.
  • In 1989 he founded, and was appointed Director of, the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College, Silwood Park
  • He was the Chief Executive of NERC, 1999-2005
  • He has published over 320 scientific papers, and written or edited five books