Professor Vernon Heywood, PhD, DSc is Emeritus Professor in the University of Reading and Honorary Fellow, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. He holds Honorary Professorships in Nanjing (China) and Mendoza (Argentina). He was formerly Professor of Botany, Head of Department of Botany (1968-87), Director of Plant Science Botanic Garden, Chairman of the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, and Dean of the Faculty of Science, University of Reading; and Professor and Head of Department of Botany, University of Liverpool (1964-67).
Professor Heywood has had a long career in plant taxonomy, systematics and evolution and has trained generations of students who now occupy senior positions in many parts of the world. He has also worked extensively on biodiversity and conservation issues in many parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean, Indian sub-continent and the Neo-tropics. He is especially concerned with developing strategies for the conservation of germplasm of wild species of economic importance, including the wild relatives of crop plants (where he has worked on projects with the Council of Europe and Biodiversity International) and medicinal and aromatic plants. He also works with the Council of Europe on the threats to biodiversity posed by Invasive Alien Plants and has prepared Codes of Conduct for horticulture and botanic gardens to combat these threats. He is also interested in the impacts of climate change on plantlife in Europe and the Mediterranean and has published a report on this for the Council of Europe. He is an expert on botanic gardens and conservation and was the founder director of the Botanic Gardens Conservation Secretariat (later Botanic Gardens Conservation International). In IUCN, as Chief Scientist, he was responsible for developing a plant conservation programme and directed projects on centres of plant diversity, extinction rates in tropical forests, species reactions to global change, medicinal plant conservation, and wild relatives of crop species. He co-ordinated and edited the UNEP Global Biodiversity Assessment, involving the collaboration of hundreds of scientists. He has served as a consultant for numerous agencies and has advised governments, ministries, universities and NGOs in many parts of the world, including Bangladesh, Costa Rica, France, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Spain, Sri Lanka and Venezuela on conservation and biodiversity issues and on botanic garden development. He has received numerous awards and distinctions including Fellow of the Linnean Society of London honoris causa, Botany Medal, Linnean Society of London, Hutchinson Medal, Chicago Horticultural Society, OPTIMA Gold Medal, Linnaeus Award, Planta Europa, Order of the Silver Dog (Can de Plata) of the Island Government of Gran Canaria, Honorary Councillor (Consejero de Honor), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He has served as a consultant for numerous agencies such as the World Bank Inspection Panel, UNDP, UNEP, FAO and Bioversity International, and has advised governments, ministries, universities and NGOs in many parts of the world, including Bangladesh, Costa Rica, France, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Spain, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and Venezuela on conservation and biodiversity issues and on botanic garden development.
He has published 70 books, including the best-selling Flowering Plants of the World (1978, 1985, 1994) and its successor,Flowering Plant Families of the World (2007), Principles of Angiosperm Taxonomy (1963), Plant Taxonomy (1967, ed.2 1976),Modern Methods in Plant Taxonomy (1968), Scanning Electron Microscopy (1983), Taxonomy in Europe. European Science Foundation (1982), Biology and Chemistry of the Compositae (1977), Taxonomy and Ecology (1973), The Biology and Chemistry of the Umbelliferae (1971), Flora Europaea, I-V (1964–1980); ed.2 vol I (1993), Conservation of Medicinal Plants (1991), Guidelines for the Conservation of Medicinal Plants (1993), Centres of Plant Diversity: A Guide and Strategy for their Conservation. IUCN & WWF. Vols 1-3 (1994–1997), Wild Food and Non-food Plants: Information Networking (1998), Use and Potential of Wild Plants in Farm Households. FAO (1999), In situ Conservation of Wild Species: A Critical Review of Good Practices. IPGRI (2006), Code of Conduct on Horticulture and Invasive Alien Plants. Council of Europe (2009), The impacts of climate change on plant species in Europe.Council of Europe (2009), Crop Wild Relatives. A manual of in situ conservation. Earthscan (2011) and is the author of over 400 papers in scientific journals.