For more than half a century, Dr Luc Hoffmann was a champion for the conservation of nature
Dr Luc Hoffmann spent most of his life working to protect the environment
An ardent ornithologist from early childhood, Dr Luc Hoffmann obtained a PhD from Basel University in Zoology and authored more than 60 books and publications on birds and their habitats.
In 1951, he set up Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in France’s Camargue region, a private research institute devoted to the study and management of wetlands renowned in Europe and the world. Along with fellow researchers at Tour du Valat, he conducted the early studies of waterbird populations and wetland ecology.
In 1961, Dr Hoffmann became WWF International’s first Vice-President, a position he held until 1988. He also served as Director of Wetlands International, Vice-President of IUCN and established the Fondation Internationale du Banc d’Arguin in West Africa. He was a key figure in the original fight to save Spain’s Coto Doñana and a driving force behind the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
To address some of the planet’s most difficult environmental challenges, WWF and the MAVA Foundation established the Luc Hoffmann Institute in 2012 to honour Dr Hoffmann’s visionary work and design innovative conservation solutions.
Dr Luc Hoffmann is the author of over 60 publications in the field of ornithology, wetlands ecology and conservation.
Founded Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in the Camargue (South of France), a private research institute devoted to the study and management of Wetlands. He was the Managing Director of the Station for 20 years.
Began to collaborate with IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and was the Vice-President from 1960 – 1969.
Initiated a campaign to save the Marismas of the Guadalquivir, with J.A. Valverde. This led to WWF and the Spanish Government purchasing the Coto Donana in 1964 and in 1969, the Donana National Park was created.
Held discussions with E.M. Nicholson and Peter Scott for the establishment of an international fund to support conservation, and in September 1961, together with several other conservationists, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), (now known as the World Wide Fund for Nature), was created. Dr Hoffmann was Vice President of the Board of WWF International from 1961 to 1988, (Executive Vice President of the Board from 1971 to 1978) and from 1988 served as WWF’s Vice President Emeritus.
Directed the MAR Project, a joint IUCN/ICBP/IWRB programme for the conservation and management of temperate wetlands. In 1963, the first winter waterfowl counts were organised in the Mediterranean, including in Greece, which led to the discovery, on Lake Karla, of the greatest waterfowl concentration seen in the Mediterranean on a single lake. The MAR project resulted in the intensification and generalisation of waterfowl counts, in the creation of an inventory of wetlands and ultimately, in an international convention for the protection of wetlands of international importance, known as the Ramsar Convention, which was signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.
1962 – 1969
Honorary Director of the International Wildfowl Research Bureau (IWRB), now called Wetlands International, and was Director Emeritus since 1970.
1966 – 1969
Vice President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Actively took part in the creation of the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue. He held different positions in the Board and commissions until 1996.
Published with W. Bauer and G. Müller “Proposals for nature conservation in Northern Greece”, which led to the establishment of the Prespa National Park and attracted attention on Evros. In December 1990, the Society for the Protection of Prespa was created, of which Dr Hoffmann was President until 2002. In 2003, he was appointed Honorary President.
Created Tour du Valat Foundation with the aim of conducting and promoting scientific research with special references to conservation and management of wetlands communities in the Camargue and around the Mediterranean.
Became Vice President of the Wildfowl Trust UK and Honorary Life Fellow in 1983.
1982 – 1996
Board Member of WWF France and a member of its Scientific Committee. He was President of WWF France from 1996 to December 2000, and then served as Honorary President.
1984 – 1988
Chairman of the Conservation Committee of WWF International, and from 1984 to 1990 he was also a member of the Executive Committee of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP), now called Birdlife International.
Created Fondation Internationale du Banc d’Arguin (FIBA), whose mission is to strengthen the Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania, the largest marine coastal park in Africa. He was President of FIBA until 2001, and later, President Emeritus. In 2002, FIBA created the Programme Régional Côtier Marin (PRCM) for West Africa.
Participated in the establishment of WWF Greece and was a member of the Board until 2001.
Created the MAVA foundation for the protection of nature and became Chairman of its Board.
The Luc Hoffmann chair in field ornithology at the Edward Grey Institute at Oxford University was established.
Wetlands International created the Luc Hoffmann Medal for Excellence in Wetland Science and Conservation.
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Honorary Member, WWF International
Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, France
Commander of the Order of the Golden Ark, Netherlands
Doctor honoris causa, University of Basel, Switzerland
Doctor honoris causa, University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst 1. Klasse, Austria
Pro Natura Dij, Hungary
Konrad Lorenz medallion of the Konrad Lorenz Gesellschaft, Austria
Kai-Curry-Lindhal Award of the Colonial Waterbird Society, USA
Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite National, République Islamique de Mauritanie
Officer, Order of Honour, Greece
Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal (WWF International)
Honorary Citizen of the Demos of Prespa, Greece
Honorary Citizen of the Commune of Nouamghar, Mauritania
European Prize for Culture
John C. Philips Medal (IUCN)
Intecol International Wetlands Award
Fellow of the American Ornithologists Union, USA
Byron Antipas Award of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, Greece
BirdLife International: President’s Medal
His majesty the King of Spain: Medal Isabelle the Catholic
Ala – Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Vogelkunde + Vogelschutz: nominated honorary member
President Emeritus MAVA Foundation (15 June 2010)
Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue: honorary Seden
Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, France
Ramsar, Honory Award, Bucharest, Rumania
Business School Lausanne, Honorary doctorate
Zayed International Prize for the Environment: category III: Environmental Action Leading to Positive Change.
Luc has played central roles in many other institutions, from the Ramsar Convention to IUCN. His passion has been an inspiration to legions of conservationists and many of the Earth’s most extraordinary places are intact today because of his vision and commitment. We are proud to honour his contributions with the creation of this Institute.
Jim Leape, Former Director General of WWF International
(Left to right) Archbishop Dr Desmond Tutu, Yolanda Kakabadse, President Emeritus of WWF International, and Dr Luc Hoffmann, a co-founder of WWF at the WWF 50th Anniversary Gala Celebrations in Zurich 29th April 2011.