The Executive Committee of the IUCN US National Committee is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, on December 25, 2021. Tom was a friend and colleague of many of us affiliated with IUCN and was a mentor to dozens of students and aspiring conservation professionals. He held numerous positions during his decades-long career including at the Smithsonian Institution, the World Wildlife Fund, the UN Foundation, and George Mason University. He also served as a science advisor to several US Presidents. He is well known for his work on the global extinction crisis and climate change. Influenced by his ongoing work in the Amazon rainforest, Tom coined the term “biological diversity”, later shortened to “biodiversity”. The scientific and public understanding of biodiversity is attributable to the work of Tom, E.O. Wilson (who sadly passed away the day following Tom), and Elliott Norse.
Tom influenced IUCN in so many ways and was regularly consulted by the IUCN Secretariat and Commissions on myriad projects. His colleagues always looked forward to seeing him at World Conservation Congresses, giving keynote talks or participating in high-level discussions. He was a member several organizations that are active in the IUCN National Committee for the USA (USNC) such as the World Wildlife Fund and George Wright Society and was associated with others such as National Geographic and George Mason University’s TraCCC - Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center. He served on the inaugural Executive Committee of the USNC and as Chair of the IUCN-US board. His influence was broad and worldwide. The world has lost a prolific research scientist and environmental conservationist whose accomplishments will be celebrated for generations to come, but his friendship and leadership will be missed the most.