This essay attempts to reconstruct the evolution of Ecology as the scientific basis for environmental conservation and human progress, as seen through the eyes of a biologist who has exercised that science during a number of tasks in various parts of the world over most of the twentieth century. From its beginnings in evolutionary thinking during the nineteenth century, ecology emerged from natural history at the beginning of the twentieth. At first the running was made by botanists; but this was soon followed by zoologists, who dealt with more mobile communities. The first quarter-century was mainly exploratory; the second was mainly descriptive (although biological exploration was still dominant in the tropics). The third quarter saw ecology developing into an experimental science, and, as the environmental revolution got into its stride, ecology became organized both nationally and internationally. Although the term is now often misused and sometimes misunderstood by laymen, the last quarter-century is seeing the wide application of ecology in environmental and human affairs, and this gives some assurance that the twenty-first century will not become one of chaos.