The Foundation for Environmental Conservation (FEC) was founded in 1975 at Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland by Nicholas Polunin with assistance from IUCN and WWF. The Foundation started unofficially about 1972 with the planning of what became the quarterly journal Environmental Conservation. As founding editor of Biological Conservation, Polunin had become aware that there was need for a separate journal to handle papers that focused on wider environmental concerns. With this holistic perspective in mind, Environmental Conservation started publication in 1974 with Polunin as Editor and the Foundation taking ownership.

Under Polunin’s leadership, the Foundation organised and sponsored four influential International Conferences on Environmental Future (ICEF): The Environmental Future, 1971; Growth Without Ecodisasters?, 1977; Maintainance of the Biosphere, 1987; and Surviving with the Biosphere, 1990. Further achievements and responsibilities of the Foundation included:

  • The Foundation sponsored, open-ended series of Environmental Monographs & Symposia which started publication in 1981, and a complementary series of shorter ‘readers’, entitled Cambridge Studies in Environmental Policy, started publication in 1990. The original paperback series of Environmental Challenges started publication in 1993.
  • The Foundation’s pioneering World Who is Who and Does What in Environmental Conservation was published by Earthscan in 1997.
  • Sponsorship of the Baer-Huxley Memorial Lectures, and organisation of specialist ‘Workshops’ to deliberate and pronounce freely on urgent aspects of environmental despoliation or other causes for grave concern.

Upon Nicholas Polunin’s death in 1997, his son, Nicholas V. C. Polunin (Nick), took over leadership of the Foundation. Nick had already taken on Editorial responsibility for the Foundation’s journal in 1995, heralding a new generation of Environmental Conservation. He has gone on to further enhance the standing of the journal, raising the impact factor from 0.49 in 1995 to 2.37 in 2015, and continuing to maintain an interdisciplinary outlook.

Under Nick’s direction, the Foundation has organised three further ICEF: Environmental Future of Aquatic Ecosystems, 2003; Interdisciplinary progress in environmental science, 2011; and Humans and Island Environments, 2018.