And the winner is ...

The university certificate programme “Management of Protected Areas” is awarded the prestigious Binding Prize

The university certificate programme “Management of Protected Areas” is an outstanding “job-stabilizing measure” and “effectively represents the pinnacle of efforts in terms of the professionalization of the protection of the environment”. These words were spoken by Georg Grabherr on the occasion of the receipt of this year’s Binding Prize by the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (AAU). The university established the programme in 2005 in collaboration with E.C.O., and has since developed it further so that it is now a truly unique programme offering in Europe. In Klagenfurt, participants from all over the world can learn how to plan, establish and organise nature reserves, national parks or biosphere parks. “The high standards demanded of the directors and managers of such protected areas require sound education and maturity. In view of this, it is even more surprising that no focused academic qualification has been available until the most recent past”, Grabherr explains in his laudation.

“It is a measure of distinction for the Faculty of Management and Economics to be the academic home of this internationally recognised and successful university certificate programme. Gratitude is due, in particular, to the promoters, Michael Jungmeier and Michael Getzner, as well as the scientific directors, Heike Egner and Hans Joachim Bodenhöfer, for their many years of committed engagement”, Erich Schwarz stated during the formal award ceremony on the 26th of November 2012. Heike Egner, the scientific director of the programme views the prize as confirmation “that the burning questions surrounding the management of protected areas show a great deal of overlap with scientific Geography.”

 The prize is awarded by the Binding Foundation annually, for outstanding services to European nature conservation ( This year, the prizes were awarded by H. S. H. Prince Nikolaus von und zu Liechtenstein on the 9th of November. Representing the AAU, Michael Jungmeier from the Department of Geography and Regional Studies and Michael Getzner, the former programme director (now at Vienna University of Technology), accepted the prize. Other award winners in this year’s awards included Mathis Wackernagel, well-known for his concept of the ecological footprint, two Swiss institutions of higher education offering nature conservation qualifications, the Ciconia Foundation for the reintroduction of white storks in Switzerland, Vorarlberg and Liechtenstein, as well as Patricia Rossi, who has been the director of the Parco Naturale Alpe Marittime for almost three decades. Past winners included Michael Succow (winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize), Klaus Töpfer, the Rainforest of the Austrians (Michael Schnitzler), the Patriarch of Constantinople, and Bishop Erwin Kräutler.

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