The Alfred Toepfer Medal, named after the founder of the EUROPARC Federation, Dr h.c. Alfred Toepfer (1894-1993), is awarded annually in recognition of a particular individual who has made a significant contribution to nature protection in Europe.
Congratulations! Alfred Toepfer Medal winner 2019
In 2019, the Alfred Toepfer Medal goes to Kaja Lotman, the Estonian champion in management of traditional semi-natural biotopes and conservation in a broader landscape. Among others, especially the idea of grazing on and restoring coastal meadows is attributed to Kaja Lotman as one of her most significant achievements.
“On the Estonian level, she is one of the leaders in the national meadow management scheme, and so many of our friends in Europe have learned from it,” said Nele Sõber, member of the EUROPARC Council, for the news portal ERR.
Next to her outstanding achievements in nature conservation in Estonia, she also enhanced conservation activities in various projects across Europe, including through the EUROPARC Federation network or as a member of UNEP/EUROBATS. She was the President of the EUROPARC Nordic-Baltic Section in 2012-2014 and member of EUROPARC Federation Council in 2014-2017. She currently works as a nature conservation advisor in Estonian Environmental Board.
As the spokesperson for semi-natural habitat restoration and maintenance in Matsalu area, Kaja played a key role in changing Matsalu Nature Reserve into a National Park and receiving the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. She participated in launching the international Matsalu Nature Film Festival, which is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year.
It is important for conservationists to be able to explain environmental issues in an understandable way to average people. There is no end to nature conservation work.
Acknowledging the importance of youth, Kaja devoted many of her activities to involving the young generations in nature conservation: from initiating a recognition process “Young Nature Conservationist” addressing the Estonian youth since 2005, to writing a children’s book “Morning concert in Matsalu” in 2018 or visiting many Junior Ranger camps in Estonia as a lecturer.
In 2014, she initiated a regional division of the organisation Naiskodukaitse (in English Women’s voluntary defense organisation), of which she has been an active member and chairman.
With her excellent communication skills, Kaja Lotman has been instrumental in the development of Estonian nature conservation system, especially promotion of participatory approach and cooperation networks.
Realizing that effective nature conservation works primarily in synergy between man and nature, it has always been important for her to involve the local community, i.e. the residents and tourism businesses.
“It was very easy for the jury to decide because what she has done in her own country and for the rest of Europe is a great example of nature conservation,” said Ignace Schops, president of EUROPARC Federation, for ERR.
As a recognition of her achievements in nature conservation she has been awarded with:
- 4th Class Order of the White Star by the Estonian President in 2003 ;
- Elisabeth Jidhe memorial award by the WWF with her husband Aleksei Lotman in 20013;
- Estonian Honorary Nature Conservation Badge in 2011, which is given to people with recognised merits in the fields of nature study , and spreading the knowledge on nature and developing the nature conservation nationwide as well as on international level.
You can read or listen to more media coverage on the Estonian national television, the Environmental Board, on the National radio, Newspaper Postimees, Newspaper Maaleht, Newspaper Lääne Elu, or on the Matsalu village society’s website.