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The passing of Dr. Võ Quý, “professor Bird” (1929-2017) by Pamela McElwee

[ndlr] Le professeur Võ Quý est décédé le 10 janvier 2017. Rappel biographique de Pamela McElwee publié avec son aimable autorisation.

Dr. Võ Quý was born December 31, 1929 in Ha Tinh Province.  He began his education in China during the Franco-Vietnam war, returning to Vietnam in 1954 where he was part of a group that founded the University of Hanoi on the site of the old Université Indochinoise. Trained as an ornithologist, he obtained his PhD from Moscow University in the 1960s. Dr. Quy spent his career at Hanoi University of Science (later Vietnam National University) teaching zoology and biology, and founding the first environmental studies program through the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, established in 1985. He maintained an active fieldwork regime, equipped with his constant binoculars, well into his late 70s. For many years Dr. Quy hosted a popular TV show on VTV about the environment and was often recognized by schoolchildren as “Professor Bird (Giáo sư Chim)”. Dr. Quy received many awards throughout his lifetime, including the 2003 Blue Planet Prize and a 2008 Heroes of the Environment award from Time Magazine.

His research and writings on birds, biodiversity, sustainable development, Agent Orange, and in more recent years, climate change, show the breadth of his interests; his 2 volume The Birds of Vietnam remains a classic in this field. In addition to his research, he actively influenced the national government in many policy areas, such as establishing a protected areas system (he was a strong influence on General Giap, who served as State Science Committee head for many years) and sought and supported many development projects, including to relocate or reintroduce endangered species like sarus cranes, to reforest mangroves and other vegetation blighted by Agent Orange, to bring sustainable development to his home province of Ha Tinh, and to get Vietnam to sign international agreements for wetlands and migratory birds. It is no understatement to say that without Dr. Quy, there would likely be fewer parks, fewer species, fewer researchers, and fewer young people interested in the environment in Vietnam. He lived up to the promise of his name Quý.

In 2016, in celebration of his life, a collected volume titled “Môi trường và đa dạng sinh học” (Environment and Biodiversity) was published by the Vietnam National University Press. It includes Dr. Quý s selected papers (scientific and others) and then a number of newspaper and other articles by other authors about his work in English and other languages.

Dr. Pamela McElwee

Source : VSG

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