Wade Davis has lived with indigenous societies in both Canada’s Arctic and the Amazon while conducting ethnographic fieldwork. He’s a famed ethnobotanist and “plant explorer,” a prolific author, photographer and filmmaker with 17 books, as well as articles in dozens of magazines and journals. He’s documented plants, folk rituals, the world’s biodiversity crisis and more from Australia and East Africa to Haiti, Mongolia and South Pacific island nations.

In other words, to say he’s a fitting new honorary vice-president for The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is an understatement. Nevertheless, when President Paul Ruest announced the appointment at the 2015 Fellows Dinner, Davis said, “At a time when geography is more important than ever, I’m honoured to join such distinguished company.”

He was referring to both present and past RCGS honorary vice-presidents. The first, named in 1929, was Arthur Coleman, a geologist and explorer who made eight expeditions through Canada’s Rockies. Others include Gen. Andrew McNaughton, who served as chief of the general staff and Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, and John Wilson, a geophysicist renowned for his work on plate tectonics.

“We recognize Dr. Davis not only for his outstanding accomplishments,” said Ruest, “but also because he is an unmatched advocate for the Society and its mission.”