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2011: Dr. Leo Zwarts

Dr. Leo Zwarts received the Wetlands International Luc Hoffmann Medal of Excellence in Wetland Science and Conservation as a representative of the team of authors and contributors to the book ‘Living on the edge – wetlands and birds in a changing Sahel’ and the substantive body of work that this represents.

With this ground-breaking publication, the results of almost 15 years of research and conservation activities are brought together. In doing this Leo has shown, in cooperation with his co-authors, a remarkable scientific expertise and broad knowledge when it comes to bird ecology, ecosystems and their relation to human well-being and societal values.

Leo Zwarts is a very special figure in the world of waterbird ecology. He combines a deep passion for waterbirds and wetlands, a unique enquiring and insightful ecological mind, with a very charming and enthusiastic personality and an enormous working power. Alongside his work on waterbirds and wetlands and their ecology he maintains a great interest in the conservation and sustainable management of the physical environment in general and in the way that humans can best deal with all this to survive and live in an acceptable way. His work and this book reflects this integrated thinking and is innovative in encouraging inter-sectoral responses to environment and development challenges.

Apart from leading a sequence of highly effective research teams in applied wetland ecology settings, Leo has made enormous contributions to the development of science-based waterbird conservation and to ecological science. He is forever the encouraging and sympathetic colleague who, again quite informally, has inspired and driven many many others to succeed. The completion of Living on the Edge shows his sense of direction, quality and his power to get the best out of people. And an understanding of the need to communicate about the key issues on the Sahel, including the important choices for the future. He was the core driver of that magnificent, complementary team. Living on the Edge is a milestone achievement.