Meet the Alfred Toepfer Scholarship Winners 2022!

The winners of 2022. From left to right: Michael Hošek, Espen Quinto-Ashman, Caitlin Cunningham, Margaux Pierrel

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Every year, the EUROPARC Federation, with the support of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, awards three scholarships to young professionals working in Protected Areas.

Meet the Alfred Toepfer Scholarship Winner 2022

The Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship grants 3000 euros to its winners. They can spend this money to travel to other Protected Areas and learn from their experience. Here, we introduce the 3 winners of 2022 and their travel plans:

Margaux Pierrel

Margaux Pierrel – Studying Shifting Baseline Syndrome

Margaux works as a Conservation Ranger for the National Parks and Wildlife Service in Ireland. As part of her responsibilities, she monitors Natura 2000 sites, enforces the national and European wildlife and habitat legislation and engages with the community. Margaux has a strong interest in the concept of “shifting baseline syndrome” (SBS), also referred to as “environmental generational amnesia”. SBS is the situation in which over time, knowledge, or memory is lost about the state of the natural world, because people don’t perceive changes that are taking place. Her scholarship project is to study the effects SBS has on conservation measures in Protected Areas, particularly in terms of species loss, land use changes and rewilding. She aims at visiting places in the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Bulgaria that are aware of these challenges, in order to raise awareness and find solutions.

Caitlin Cunningham – How can we create nature-friendly green energy?

Caitlin Cunningham

Caitlin works wok as a Marine Sustainability Adviser for NatureScot. Her job involves coordinating environmental advice for offshore wind and marine renewable proposals in Scotland, considering impacts to our seas and marine life. In her role, she is directly involved in helping to tackle the climate emergency through the development of renewable energy, whilst also balancing the conservation of biodiversity through minimising environmental impacts. During her study visit to the Netherlands, Caitlin will learn from marine and coastal renewable energy developments that impact protected sites, as well as the mitigation in place to protect biodiversity. She aims to broaden her understanding of different approaches to sustainable development, and record any lessons learnt that can be applied across the marine renewable energy sector. Caitlin states: “I’m delighted to receive one of the Alfred Toepfer Scholarships and look forward to sharing my findings with the wider environmental community”.

Espen Quinto-Ashman – How are managing practices supporting ecosystems?

Espen Quinto-Ashman

Espen works as the Bird Ringer in charge at Ottenby Bird Observatory. Here, he leads a team of up to 20 volunteers in the daily standardised ringing activities and other biological inventories on the reserve. During his study visits, Espen aims to visit three Protected Areas: Bialowieza National Park and Biebrza National Park in Poland and Maramures National Park in Romania. These areas encompass an array of habitats which are comparable to those that can be found at Ottenby, albeit on a much larger scale. The habitats he is most interested in studying are: deciduous forest, marshes and meadow pastures. Espen will study how the management practices in the different parks are suited to the different ecosystems and how well they fulfil their job of protecting biodiversity as well as the key threats to nature in these places. There, he is particularly interested in how the presence of different species of large herbivores and carnivores, as well as the local hydrology, can affect the health of the habitats.

EUROPARC congratulates the three winners and looks forward to their reports! You can learn more about previous winners of the Scholarship here.

The Alfred Toepfer Scholarship is made possible through the generous support of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung.