Peter Furley, emeritus Professor of Biogeography, University of Edinburgh, was a world leader in understanding the dynamics of tropical savanna and forest systems. His doctorate from Cambridge was in soil science, and he devoted his life to tropical biogeography and pedology.
Peter was an inspirational teacher, but he was perhaps happiest in fieldwork - in his straw hat, digging into soils among the termite hills or grappling with the enigma of the forest/savanna boundary. He worked in China, India, Nepal, Yemen and various African countries, but above all in Belize and Brazil.
For 40 years Peter helped Edinburgh maintain a field station and send regular expeditions to Belize; and he was chairman of the UK-Belize Association. In Brazil he was a professor in the Ecology Department of the University of Brasilia. For the RGS, Peter Furley brilliantly led ‘Land Development’, one of the five research programmes of its Maracá Rainforest Project of 1987-88.
He published 72 books and papers, for both scientific and general readers. Everyone lucky enough to work with Peter knew him as calm, competent, energetic, enthusiastic and above all amiable with a delightful sense of humour. He is smiling in every picture in his website, and that is how he is remembered.
By Dr. John Hemming CMG, former Director of the Society.
Professor Peter Furley (1935 - 2020)
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