We’re not here just to research but to put our knowledge to good use. Every day is different. It might be something strategic for the Mediterranean region or something local, like dealing local rice farmers whose vast paddies our flamingos love to invade!
Luc Hoffmann’s favourite bird
Conservation of the Greater flamingo in southern France is a celebrated success but Jean is most proud of a more recent achievement. After some enticement, collared pratincole waders have chosen the Tour du Valat as their main breeding ground in France.
It’s a very beautiful bird, like a swallow but bigger. Nesting on bare ground means its eggs are often washed away when rice farmers flood their paddies. Watching them feeding over marshes in the evening is a very moving spectacle. They were Luc’s favourite bird.
Everywhere in the Mediterranean wetlands are undervalued, seen as wastelands to be developed, drained or farmed, their water put to use. And Jean is clear about the need to advocate their value as a source of life, wealth and inspiration. Informing a clear public policy message with solid science has been key alongside partnerships, especially with the Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory.
Underpinning this drive for broader societal engagement, Jean has recently helped set up the Alliance for Mediterranean Wetlands which brings together 15 international NGOs and five research organisations committed to protecting wetlands and advocating their sustainable use.
We’ve developed powerful tools that help wetland managers predict outcomes based on factors like water level and salinity, and others that track urban and agricultural encroachment using satellite imagery in countries like Syria or Libya where data are scarce or unvailable. But providing decision-makers with the perfect report isn’t enough. We need social pressure, so we’re working hard to engage civil society and change perceptions about wetlands.
Bite of the mosquito
A biologist and agronomist by training, Jean has always worked at the interface of agriculture and environment, asking how nature might be taken into account. Growing up in Grenoble, he spent weekends hiking in the Alps but it was Luc that shaped him most.
As life becomes more virtual and urban, people have less and less connection with nature. We need to smell the leaves and the grass, feel the bite of the mosquito! As Luc understood so well, we can only reconcile people and nature if we make this connection and experience it in our body and soul.
Enhancing the conservation of coastal wetlands
Promoting sustainable coastal development is a complex challenge. Through research, advocacy and passion, Jean and Tour du Valat are critical to MAVA’s mission in the Mediterranean, inspiring hundreds of organisations and individuals alike. Read more about MAVA’s action plan on this subject.