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Alfred Toepfer Medal

What is the Alfred Toepfer Medal?

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.

More information on the history of Alfred Toepfer is available here

Those who have made a contribution to nature conservation in Europe through an experienced body of work, are recognised with the Alfred Toepfer Medal. Nominated by EUROPARC members this gives an opportunity, to the work done, to be praised and valued by peers.

Who can receive the Alfred Toepfer Medal?

The Alfred Toepfer Medal is awarding people who made a contribution to nature conservation in Europe through an experienced body of work. This should be specifically related to protected areas and to sustainable development. Access here the list of the Alfred Toepfer Medal holders.

Who can nominate?

Only EUROPARC members can nominate candidates for the Alfred Toepfer Medal.


When will the Alfred Toepfer Medal be given?

The award is given publicaly at the annual EUROPARC conference.

Criteria for nomination

The Alfred Toepfer Medal is awarding people who made an exceptional contribution to nature conservation in Europe through an experienced body of work. In particular, the work related to protected areas and sustainable development are being considered.

Not eligible and exclusion criteria

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Nominations will be excluded for:

  • Active council members (elected & co-opted);
  • Section representatives in a running mandate;
  • Staff members.

Previous winners

2019 – Kaja Lotman

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. 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.

Kaja played a key role in changing Matsalu Nature Reserve into a National Park, and with her excellent communication skills, she has been instrumental in the development of Estonian nature conservation system, especially promotion of participatory approach and cooperation networks. Read the full article about her inspiring achievements here.

2017 – Rauno Väisänen

Rauno Väisänen, alfred toepfer medal

Rauno Väisänen received the Alfred Toepfer Medal in 2017 at EUROPARC Conference in the Magic Mountains, Portugal

“Best practice through international cooperation” could be the motto of Rauno Väisänen. From Finland to the world, Rauno was for two terms member of EUROPARC Council and the first President of the EUROPARC Nordic-Baltic Section; had an important participation in the IUCN WCPA; and a member of the World Heritage Council. With a PhD in biology and a career dedicated to nature conservation in Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, Rauno has helped in the development of the IUCN Management Categories and pioneered in the Management Effectiveness Evaluations, and was a great support to all protected area managers within the Nordic-Baltic Section, helping to build day-to-day connections and find common project ideas. Read a short bio of Rauno here.

2016 – Giuseppe Antoci

alfred toepfer medal, giuseppe antoci

Giuseppe Antoci was awarded the Alfred Toepfer Medal 2016 at EUROPARC Conference that took place in Parc jura Vaudois, Switzerland

Giuseppe Antoci, Director of the Nebrodi Regional Park in Sicily, Italy, was awarded the Alfred Toepfer Medal as a recognition of his strong courage in defense of nature against organised crime. Antoci is fighting the local mafia system that has spread in recent years and that allowed to receive European funds for the support of fake farmers and shepherds pretending to manage large areas of agricultural land. Therefore, he has adopted a specific legality protocol, the so-called “Antoci’s protocol”, that is now recognised as a successful model that has been signed by all Prefects and the President of the Region, and extended to the entire island. More about Antoci here.

2015 – Jane Hodges

Jane Hodges, receiving the Alfred Toepfer Medal at EUROPARC Conference 2015 © Jakub Kaspar

Jane Hodges has been recognised for her work with the  Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority,  National Park Authority and her contribution to nature conservation. A defining moment in Jane’s career came about in 1996 with the Sea Empress oil spill. Jane was a key member of the environment team in the Response Centre and the also task groups set up by the Sea Empress Environmental Committee in the aftermath. Jane was appointed an MBE in 1999 for Services to Ecology in Pembrokeshire.

2013 – Erika Stanciu

Erica Stanciu receiving the Medal at the 2014 Conference Ceremony in Hungary © Gábor Nagy

For her outstanding achievements in furthering nature conservation in Europe, and as a female role model to many in the Protected Area community, the EUROPARC Federation in cooperation with the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. awarded the Alfred Toepfer Medal 2013 to Erika Stanciu, former president of EUROPARC for six years, trainer and Protected Area expert in capacity building issues.

2012 – Dr. Arthur Mitchell

One man makes a difference: Northern Ireland revealing a groundbreaking approach for Europe

Honoring his long-term commitment, participatory approach and success in the conservation of protected areas, the EUROPARC Federation in cooperation with the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. awarded the Alfred-Toepfer Medal 2012 to Dr. Arthur Mitchell of Mourne Heritage Trust.
At the heart of Dr Mitchell´s mission stands local ownership. Peoples´participation is the core of the community networks he initiated to protect and enhance natural landscapes, with income-generating opportunities through sustainable tourism and other activities. It was his unstinting commitment and dedicated approach that serve many as best practice example. Now, as an Alfred-Toepfer Medal holder, Arthur Mitchell´s strategy will reach out to even more people who combine nature conservation and landscape-based sustainable development.

2011 – Hans Biebelriether

At the EUROPARC Conference 2011 in Bad Urach, Germany, the prestigious Alfred Toepfer Award was won by Mr. Hans Biebelriether, who was nominated by the Bavarian Forest National Park (DE) and Czech Protected Areas. The laudation speech at the conference was given by Eberhardt Henne who has worked with Hans Biebelriether for a long time. The award went to Dr. Biebelrieter for his work in international relations in the field of nature protection and his work in shaping Protected Areas across Europe and at home in Germany.

2010 –  Lassi Karivalo

The Alfred Toepfer Medal of the EUROPARC Federation was awarded at the Europarc 2010 Conference held in Abruzzo National Park in Italy to Senior Advisor Lassi Karivalo of Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services. Mr. Karivalo retired from the Finnish agency in summer 2010.

Lassi Karivalo received the medal for a long and successful career in transboundary cooperation of Protected Areas. He helped develop the European certification system for transboundary parks called Transboundary Parks – Following Nature’s Design which was launched in 2003. He also helped initiate the network of certificated transboundary parks called the TransParcNet.

2009 – Gordon Millar

2009’s successful nominee for the Alfred Toepfer Medal was Mr. Gordon Millar who was nominated by Thomas Hansson from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Hansson listed a number of Mr. Millar’s achievements some of which can be seen below:

  • During the 1970s Mr. Millar became an active member of the Association of countryside rangers. Promoting the value of ranger services coming together to exchange expertise and ideas.
  • He had a famous discussion with rangers from Scotland, United States, and Denmark on a boat trip on Loch Lomond that led the following year to the formal inauguration of the International Ranger Federation in 1992.
  • At 6:30 on the evening of Sunday, May 21, 1995, as chairman of the International Ranger Federation, officially opened the First World Ranger Congress with the raising of IRF’s flag – the green, blue and white ying-yang symbol.

2008 – Walter Frank

In 2008 the winner of the Medal was the retired Romanian forester Mr. Walter Frank who was nominated by EUROPARC Germany for his fantastic work with Romania’s ancient beech forests.