Luc Hoffmann – wetlands pioneer

Luc Hoffmann – wetlands pioneer

6 February 2023


Luc Hoffman (Photo credit: Tour du Valat)

Few individuals have had as great an impact as Luc Hoffmann in both bringing attention to the world’s wetlands and taking action to protect them and ensure their wise use. Born one hundred years ago in 1923 in Basel, Switzerland, Luc took an interest at a young age in migrating birds and their habitats. He studied zoology at the University of Basel and received his doctorate in 1952.

Two years later, he set up the Tour du Valat biological station in France’s Camargue region, a research institute devoted to the study and management of wetlands. Along with fellow researchers at Tour du Valat, he conducted early studies of waterbird populations and wetland ecology. In 1961, Luc became WWF International’s first Vice-President, a position that he held until 1988. He also served as Director of Wetlands International and Vice-President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and established the Fondation Internationale du Banc d’Arguin in West Africa. Crucially to us of course, Luc was a driving force behind the establishment of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Luc believed that science was the foundation for action but understood the wider reality of preserving life on Earth – that problem-solving needs to be coordinated and take into account different perspectives, and that sustainable development must encompass both nature and people. Passionate yet modest, he was not afraid to experiment with different, innovative approaches and to mix science, art, music and diplomacy to achieve results. Luc had a strong belief that partnership and collaboration at all levels of society were key to success.

Luc’s spirit and determination continue to inspire and motivate us to raise our voices and take positive actions for wetlands.