My Inspiration, My Hero and Greatest Influence: Christopher Morris Wilks
“If you choose a career you love and are passionate about, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Christopher Morris Wilks (1947-2008)
My inspiration and greatest influence to love, study, protect and understand the environment comes from my late father, Christopher Morris Wilks.
My father worked as a botanist for over 40 years, mainly in Gabon but also in Zaire (ex Democratic Republic of Congo) and Equatorial Guinea, and he taught me everything that I know about the environment.
He was very passionate about his work and fell in love with Gabon and the uniqueness of the equatorial forest.
Writing this article is the least I could do for someone who was so important and influential in my life as well as for the Republic of Gabon where he made his home.
Through all his actions, my father taught me what it means to be responsible and how to treat the environment with the same respect as we treat living species.
My dad did everything within his power to make sure that I would succeed academically and I am blessed to have had him in my life.
The world deserves to know how you are my hero, my coach, my teacher, my best friend, my biggest fan and, most importantly, my beloved father.
Christopher Morris Wilks was a British national, born on the 13 July 1947 at St Mary’s Hospital (London, UK) and died 2 November 2008 (Libreville, Gabon). He dedicated most of his life to botany and the Gabonese forest, and was passionate about it.
He spoke three languages fluently; English, Lingala and French, and he could understand many Gabonese dialects.
Christopher Morris Wilks (always known as Chris Wilks in Gabon) dedicated most of his life to botany and forestry work. His areas of interest were sustainable forest management, conservation, and ecology and forestry research. He contributed to the production of field guides, reference books and websites on trees and the forest environment aimed at field training of botanists, ecoguides and forestry inventory personnel. However, he also produced ecology and natural history guides for schools technology networks and also tools for development and visual communication.
Professjonal Life and Publications:
- 2007 (Gabon) Iret – Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS): Commenced work on Gabon Tree Project with three projected outcomes: a pocket field guide, a large format reference book and a website. Unfortunately, he could not achieve this due to illness (liver cancer) from which he died in November 2008.
- 2001 – 2007 (Gabon – Democratic Republic of the Congo) Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS): Worked as a consultant to WCS. on evaluation surveys for Gabon‘s National Parks network prior to their formal establishment. Botanical inventory, delimitation, evaluation of new protected areas and training.
- 1999 – 2001: Gabonese Forestry Ministry: Consultant funded by SECA, Montpellier, France (French Cooperation Fund).
Co-produced a book on Gabon‘s forest and forestry industry:
La foret filiere bois au Gabon, the Gabon Forestry Ministry and the French Cooperation Fund, 2003
The forest and timber industry of Gabon, the Gabon Forestry Ministry and the French Cooperation Fund, 2003
- 1997 – 1999 (Equatorial Guinea): Curef
- Conservation and rational use of forest ecosystems of Equatorial Guinea.
- He worked as a consultant funded by SECA and AGREER (European Union funding).
Co- authored a guide book of the trees of Equatorial Guinea.
Los Guia practica: Los arboles de Guinea Ecuatorial, Curef, 2000
Guide pratique: Les arbres de la Guinee Equatoriale,Curef,2000
Guide: Trees of Equatorial Guinea, CUREF ,2000
- 1985 – 1997 (Gabon and Equatorial Guinea):
Started up his own forest surveys company. Carried out forestry survey for Leroy gabon (Isoroy), SEMGE, SHM, SIL, Soforga, Somivab, Thanry Gabon. Forest management inventory for CEB (Lastoursville – Okondja – Franceville area) and the Forestry Ministry (Sud – Estuaire and Bokoue).
Training courses for Forestry ministry and Rougier Gabon personnel . Environmental surveys for Conoco, Elf Gabon and Sun Oil. Botanic inventory for WWF at Minkebe . Botanical collection for Missouri Botanical Garden .
Published book: Conservation des ecosystems forestiers: Gabon, IUCN, 1990.
- 1977- 1984 (Gabon) Employed by the logging company Lutexfo: to conduct forestry surveys.
Topographical surveying and seismic line–opening for sister company Topodef, a contractor to Elf and Shell.
- 1976 – 1977 (Gaon) Employed by Octra (Office du chemin de fer Transgabonais) Shallow seismic surveys to study depth of weathered zone.
- 1973 – 1976 (Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Cogo). Employed by Institute Monyongo
Volunteer teacher funded by UNA and Congolese (Zairian) government. Teaching biology andd other science subjects, and mathematicss.
- 1969 – 1973 (United Kingdom) Middlesex Polytechnic
Lecture in Biology, General Studies and Visual Research. Development and management of the Natural Forms Lab used by the Art and Design Departments at Hprnsey College of Art.
Concurrent studies in maths and computer programming.
- 1965 – 1968 (United Kingdom) University of Southampton
BSc Botany. Dissertation on the factors affecting ground flora composition in the New Forest, Hampshire.
(Christopher Morris Wilks at Mondah Forest)