• Cranborne Chase AONB Office, Rushmore Farm, Tinkley Bottom, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, SP5 5QA  Tel: 01725 517417


Apr 3, 2017
Cranborne Chase AONB's first chairman dies

Dick PottsDr Dick Potts, the first chairman of Cranborne Chase AONB whose tenure began in 2003 and ended in 2008, died on 30 March aged 78.  A former director general of The Game Conservancy Trust and managing director of Game Conservancy Ltd and a true pioneer in the world of conservation, Dick, who was instrumental in the publication of the AONB’s First Management Plan in 2004, proved to be the ideal person to head up Cranborne Chase during a crucial period in its history.   

“Dick was hugely supportive, incredibly knowledgeable and a really innovative thinker who could transfer scientific results into practical land management. He always looked for tangible outcomes – he wanted to see real change,” said Linda Nunn, AONB director. “Working with him was incredible: he was hugely inspirational. Our multi-award winning South Wiltshire Farmland Bird project would not have come about without Dick. He was also endlessly supportive in the work that we did into game management. When he joined the partnership he brought with him the resources of The Game Conservancy Trust, including all their mapping expertise. All the maps in our First Management Plan were theirs and we still rely on these today.

“Dick’s view was that if the decline of wildlife and bird species wasn’t stopped, we would all end up with an aesthetically pleasing countryside, but one with no wildlife at all. However, Dick didn’t just talk about it, he did something about it and we – and the countryside - are still living with the results of his incredible research and projects today,” continued Linda.   

Dick was a farmer’s son. He grew up in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and read zoology at the University of Durham before studying for the first of his four PhDs. It was during the 1960s that he first developed an interest in pesticide use on farms.

In 1968 he accepted a post with The Game Conservancy to explore the causes of the decline of the grey partridge, studying the indirect effects of pesticides and predation on wildlife on the Sussex Downs, work which led to one of the most detailed prescriptions for the restoration of a species in the world.

Additionally, he served on numerous bodies and committees, including that of English Nature, the Natural Environment Research Council and DEFRA’s Scientific Advisory Committee. A recipient of a plethora of awards, Dick’s work helped to secure the 1995 Wildlife Society of America’s Group Achievement Award, the first time it had been given to an organisation outside the USA.

“While Dick supported farmers and farming, he never stopped challenging agriculture to do better,” added Linda Nunn. “He did the same with the AONB. His legacy in our landscape will live on. Dick was kind, friendly and good humoured. The natural world has truly lost a great friend.”