I was saddened to read last week of the death of geographer and naturalist Ian Mercer. In 1973, he became the first chief officer of the Dartmoor National Park – and I remember him presenting a number of videos about Dartmoor that I used in my lessons. I also heard him speak at conferences many times, and his love for the natural world was always conveyed with boyish enthusiasm.
Mercer fought hard to breach the rift between nature and landscape conservation caused by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949), which created separate bodies to oversee these disciplines. It was therefore appropriate that she should be appointed in 1990 as chief executive of the newly-formed Countryside Council for Wales, which for the first time in Great Britain, brought nature, landscape and recreation together.
He was also a past President of the Field Studies Council, and at one time ran the Slapton Ley Centre in Start Bay.
Mercer wrote the second edition of the excellent ‘New Naturalist’s Dartmoor’, and in the introduction he noted: “Despite spending three-quarters of my working life as a rural public servant, I have always been a geographer.”
Ian Mercer CBE – died September 2oth, 2016 – aged 83.