Celebration for one of the Convention's "Founding Fathers"

25/01/2003

Luc Hoffmann celebrates 80th birthday

A special celebration was held in Basle (Switzerland) for Luc Hoffmann's 80th birthday on 23 January 2003. Luc is an initiator of many essential wetland conservation initiatives in Europe and beyond, including the lengthy preparation and final adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar in 1971. After finishing his biology studies in Basle, Luc moved to the Rhône delta in southern France where he created the Tour du Valat Biological Station in the Camargue, one of Europe's outstanding wetland sites. On behalf of Wetlands International (then IWRB), IUCN, the World Conservation Union, and BirdLife International (then ICBP), he organized in 1962 the famous international "MAR" Conference reviewing extensively the scientific, economic and moral considerations in relation to wetlands. Together with the late Sir Peter Scott and others, Luc was essential in setting up WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature (then World Wildlife Fund). One of their first projects was to prevent Coto Doñana from being destroyed, another of Europe's most prestigious wetland sites in the Guadalquivir marshes of southern Spain.

During the birthday celebration in Basle, Professor Antal Festetics paid tribute to Luc's early support to conserve Hortobagy and other Hungarian steppe wetlands (now Ramsar sites), to his engagement for wetlands in Greece and his contribution to the creation of Prespa National Park that forms now part of the first trilateral Ramsar site covering the Prespa lakes in Albania, Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International, congratulated Luc for his initiative to create the Banc d'Arguin International Foundation (FIBA) in support of the famous National Park (and Ramsar site) on the Atlantic coast of Mauritania, as well as other major coastal wetlands in West Africa, including the Bijagos archipelago in Guinea-Bissau. He highlighted Luc's longstanding involvement in WWF governing bodies, and his initiative in creating national WWF organizations in Greece and France.

Professor Sir John Krebs of Oxford University announced the creation of a "Luc Hoffmann Professorship in Ornithology" at the Edward Grey Institute, supported by an endowment of Luc's family and the F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., who were also hosting the birthday celebration event. Sir John noted the pioneering work of Luc and his researchers at Tour du Valat in the field of long-term population studies on waterbirds, wetlands ecology, conservation and management, stressing Luc's belief that efficient nature conservation activities need to rely on good science. Adding to Luc's many rewards and distinctions, the Konrad-Lorenz-Society awarded him their medal.

The Ramsar Bureau is honoured to join the many congratulators and wishes Luc many more years of health, strength and gratification for his efforts. Our wetland world today would look much different without him.

-- reported by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar

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