Leading ecologist and academic whistle-blower Prof. William Laurance is set to visit Groningen. Laurance was the scientist who managed to really call attention to the deforestation of tropical rainforests. He collected and published the hard data regarding the loss of biodiversity due to forest fragmentation. He continually managed to convey the need for environmental protection in an unsurpassed manner.
These are the reasons Laurance will be awarded the biennial Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences on Thursday 27 September in Amsterdam. A day earlier, on Wednesday 26 September 2012, he will participate in a symposium that is being held in his honour at the University of Groningen, entitled Relevant ecological research: Unwelcome messages for a world in transition? William F. Laurance (54) is Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at the James Cook University in Cairns, Australia.
The results of ecological research often lead to suggestions for concrete preservation measures, or the call for political pressure to help retain biodiversity. This tends to put ecologists in a vulnerable position, as they are often considered to have a vested interest in the public debate. The symposium will delve into the independence of ecologists and their conclusions. What is it that makes or breaks their authority in the political and public debate? Why is ecological research so important?
The talk by Laurance will be preceded by contributions from Prof. Han Olff (director of the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies at the University of Groningen), Maarten Hajer (director of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency), Johan van de Gronden (director of WWF-NL), Peter Herman (Wadden Academy and NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research – Wadden Academy) and the winner of the 2012 Young Heineken Award for Environmental Sciences, Dr Tjisse van der Heide (biologist at the University of Groningen).
J.G. Rietveld, Department of Animal Ecology
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