The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation was established in 2005 to honor Dr. Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021) for his lifetime of pioneering scientific work in biology, for his ability to convene and find common ground among scientists and conservation communities, and for his eloquent, award-winning writing on the subject of biodiversity.
Founders Jay M. Short, Neil Patterson, and Charles J. Smith, with help from other supporting friends and colleagues, established the Foundation in 2005 to advance biodiversity conservation based on the three pillars of inspirational education, emerging technology and sound business strategies.
The Foundation celebrated its inauguration with a two-day BioBlitz in New York City’s Central Park on June 22–23, 2006, in collaboration with the Explorer’s Club, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Boston Museum of Natural Science. The Foundation has since supported numerous BioBlitzes, including Microbial BioBlitzes. Several hundred novel species have been identified during these hands-on activities.
In 2008, the film Darwin’s Natural Heir was released detailing E.O. Wilson’s extraordinary life and unparalleled work. Narrated by Harrison Ford, the film has aired on NOVA, the BBC, and in many museums worldwide. The Foundation’s Board Chairman David J. Prend and Board of Directors Member Gregory C. Carr have subsequently provided indispensable leadership in shaping and advancing the Foundation’s mission and goals.
Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021), Red Hills, Alabama, 2010. Photograph by Beth Maynor Young.
On June 30, 2014, the Foundation launched E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth, a visionary iBooks textbook series designed to excite and instruct high school biology students through interactive, state-of-the-art digital media. This pioneering format combines artistry and technology to provide a stunning perspective on the meaning and importance of life on Earth. Developed by a team of uniquely qualified individuals led by project director Morgan Ryan, ‘Life on Earth’ has since engaged millions of readers in the beauty of our planet and the responsibility we all have to preserve the biodiversity around us.
In March 2016, E.O. Wilson published Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, in which he argues that unless we move quickly, we’ll soon lose most of the species composing life on Earth. Commensurate with the magnitude of the problem, he proposes that we conserve half the surface of the Earth in order to protect sufficient habitat to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity. Under the leadership of Foundation President and CEO Paula J. Ehrlich, the Half-Earth Project was launched to achieve this grand ambition.
E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation president and CEO Paula Ehrlich gives remarks at the evening session of the planet’s first-ever Half-Earth Day ®. The inaugural event was co-convened by National Geographic and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and held at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 23, 2017. Photograph by Tony Powell/National Geographic .