Meet the Alfred Toepfer Scholarship winners 2023!

From left to right: Andreas Holz of the Alfred Toepfer Siftung, Lucia Ursu, Emmanuele Déon, Hayden Bridgeman and EUROPARC President Michael Hošek. Picture by PDF-Grafie for the EUROPARC Federation.

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Every year, the EUROPARC Federation grants three scholarships to young professionals, in order for them to conduct study visits on their chosen topic. Get to know the three winners of 2023! The scholarships are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung.

About the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship

EUROPARC strongly believes that young professionals have a vital role to play in caring for Europe’s natural heritage. Like everything else, the future of Protected Areas relies on the young generation taking an active and informed role. Each year the EUROPARC Federation, with support from the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S., awards three Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarships to promising young conservationists, who are committed to working for the benefit of Protected Areas. The aim of the scholarships is to enhance international cooperation and to advance the quality, innovation and European dimension of Protected Area management. Meet the winners of the 2023 edition:

Emmanuelle Déon


“My name is Emmanuelle Déon and I work as a Sustainable tourism project manager for Montagne de Reims Regional Park. My role is to engage with stakeholders in developing projects that make the Park more accessible to visitors, mainly through outdoor activities and soft mobilities. Tourism and leisure in Parks are a great way to raise people’s awareness of the beauty of nature, but are also challenging because we have to make sure that these activities don’t result in negative environmental impacts. My scholarship project is to study how Parks can get involved in developing social tourism, for a more inclusive and equitable access to sustainable tourism towards people in risk of poverty. I have a strong interest in the social pillar of sustainability because I believe it is our collective responsibility, as a society, to care for the most vulnerable populations. I aim at visiting several Protected Areas in Europe which have worked on this issue, in order to identify and disseminate best practices within European Parks.”

Hayden Bridgeman


“My name is Hayden Bridgeman and I am North Area Ranger for the New Forest National Park Authority. My role is to help visitors and locals learn about what makes the National Park special, how they can enjoy the area, and offer advice about how to help protect it. I have a huge passion for making nature inclusive, and believe that everybody should be able to access green spaces. We, as a society, are increasingly aware of how crucial nature is to good mental health, yet those that need it most are often unable to access it. I am currently leading on a local initiative to enable refugees to access the UK’s National Parks and I want to continue to learn how I can remove more of the barriers this community faces when accessing nature. This scholarship allows me to learn from other professionals about some of the opportunities they have created in their Protected Areas for marginalised communities. I am so grateful for this opportunity and hope my findings will be useful to my European colleagues.”

Lucia Ursu


“My name is Lucia Ursu. As an educator in Protected Areas, I have witnessed first-hand the vital role that parks play in promoting sustainable development and preserving our natural heritage. I strongly believe that Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is crucial in our efforts to create a more sustainable future not just for Protected Areas but for nature in general. Through ESD we can change perspectives and shift attitudes towards more sustainable behaviours. Being an Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship winner brings me a unique opportunity to further develop my skills and knowledge in the field of ESD, enables me to expand my expertise and deepen my understanding of ESD and lets me connect with other professionals working towards a more sustainable future.  I am committed to using the knowledge and skills I gain through the scholarship to make a positive impact in my community and beyond, and to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Due to a change in direction of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, 2023 was the final year of the Alfred Toepfer Scholarships. EUROPARC is currently investigating alternative opportunities to continue the Scholarship in some form. Discover all previous winners here.