Nature Today | Heimans and Thijsse Prize 2023 for Aaf Verkade


Since 1999, Aaf Verkade has been impressively committed to promoting nature experience and nature study in the city of Leiden. Her dedication and exceptional approach have had a profound impact on both the local community and the broader conservation community in the Netherlands. The laureate has developed important and inspiring activities and distinguishes himself in several areas:

Clear appearance: Aaf Verkade is the only city snorkeler in Leiden, who explores the underwater world of canals, canals and ponds with an inimitable enthusiasm and passion. The underwater world is invisible and unknown to almost everyone, but so close. She brings this fascinating hidden world to life and shares her findings with the audience in an inspiring way. See, for example, her website Under water in Leiden.

Groundbreaking and groundbreaking: Aaf Verkade has provided a new perspective on city waters by conducting intensive snorkeling surveys. She continually discovers new species and changes to the underwater environment and has contributed to raising awareness of the value of blue urban nature.

New target groups and audiences: She involves and reaches many different people. Young and old and from all walks of life. She reaches museum visitors with her water theater, and her salt box route through the fish reserve informs hikers and casual passers-by. She involves people in a playful and educational way.

Long validity value and durability: Her initiatives, such as the cat climbing ropes and water gardens, have had a lasting impact and continue to inspire. She has also contributed to social cohesion by involving people from streets and neighborhoods in nature conservation. The Pocket Guide to Flashlight Fishing, developed by Aaf and illustrator Guus Gijben, shows underwater inhabitants and their behavior, so that readers can learn to recognize them from the banks themselves.

The Heimans and Thijsse Prize, symbolized by a bronze starling

Innovative research approach: Aaf Verkade has developed innovative methods, such as training predatory fish to combat invasive exotic species such as the American crayfish, which is of great value for understanding and conserving native biodiversity.

The Heimans and Thijsse Foundation recognizes Aaf Verkade as an exceptional and inspiring individual, who, like Eli Heimans and Jac. P. Thijsse more than a hundred years ago, promoted appreciation for nature and nature study in a unique way. Her work is an example of how one person can bring about profound change and contribute to a healthier, more natural and sustainable society.

Presentation during Heimans and Thijsse Symposium

The award ceremony will take place on Saturday afternoon, November 18, during the annual Heimans and Thijsse Symposium that takes place on the campus of Wageningen University & Research. The title of the symposium is ‘Does more knowledge of history lead to more successful nature conservation?’. This concerns the question of whether conservationists have sufficient historical awareness and whether better knowledge of their own history and changes in nature helps conservationists to operate more effectively? There are still some places available. The full program can be found and you can also register via the website of the Heimans and Thijsse Foundation.

About the Heimans and Thijsse Prize

The Heimans and Thijsse Prize has existed since 1955 and is awarded in recognition of the work of individuals, groups of individuals or organizations that contribute to society in the spirit of Eli Heimans and Jac. P. Thijsse. At the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, they carried out pioneering activities in the field of nature experience, nature study and nature conservation in the Netherlands, including the establishment of Natuurmonumenten, the conservation of the Naardermeer, and the Verkade albums. The Heimans and Thijsse Prize consists of a bronze starling. See the brief and extensive overview of all laureates on the website.

Text: Heimans and Thijsse Foundation
Photos: Heimans and Thijsse Foundation; Rob Buiter; Andrew Mutzner

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Nature Today Heimans Thijsse Prize Aaf Verkade


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