Today the conservation of the planet's biological diversity requires international cooperation and treaties. Professor Manfred Niekisch is concerned with both nature conservation strategies and instruments for their implementation. Long before he became Director of the Frankfurt Zoo, Niekisch was interested in combining research and practice. He investigates and develops strategies and instruments for both the protection and sustainable use of natural living resources. Among these are concepts for tropical forests and their conservation, management of protected areas, and the design of a socially and ecologically acceptable and economically feasible policy for sustainable tourism in these areas. His focus is directed towards changing attitudes and behaviour with regard to agriculture and other forms of land use and contributing to responsible far-sighted policies. In this context, development policy initiatives and approaches are frequently a prerequisite.
Niekisch's geographical focus lies in the regions of South America and in Vietnam. His research ranges from studies of potential land use in sub-Antarctic areas in Southern Argentina to the sustainable management of natural resources in the Mekong-Delta in Vietnam. Against a background of climate change he seeks to establish ways of ensuring that land use respects both nature and biodiversity. In cooperation with the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiKF) Niekisch plans to apply his academic findings to projects that support such strategies for nature conservation. Furthermore, these projects should also contribute to ensuring the continued existence of traditional and ethnic communities dependent on subsistence farming in countries of the global South.
Niekisch is not only keen on teaching students about the biological and ecological foundations of international nature conservation, but also on providing them with opportunities to build on their studies with practical experience. As Niekisch says "At Frankfurt Zoo, with over 450 species of animals, students are able to make the connection between species protection and zoological animal husbandry practices. They conduct behavioural studies and learn about management strategies for endangered species, which they can then go on to develop themselves". As a result of his involvement in the field of international nature conservation, Niekisch is also in an advantageous position to guide his students towards potential career options for the future.
Subsequent to receiving a degree in Biology at Cologne University, Manfred Niekisch obtained his doctorate at the University of Bonn with a survey on the dispersal strategies of the yellowbellied toad (Bombina variegata). He played a leading role in the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) as well as in OroVerde before being appointed psrofessor for International Nature Conservancy at the University of Greifswald in 1998. Niekisch has taught both in Germany and abroad, and has served in an honorary capacity in many commissions and boards, for example as President of the Society for Tropical Ecology (gtö) and in the Directorate of the Senckenberg Nature Research Society. In 2008 he was appointed to the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) and in the same year became the Director of the Frankfurt Zoo. Since 2010 he has been an co-opted professor at the Goethe University Frankfurt.
Prof. Dr. Manfred Niekisch
Institute for Ecology,
Evolution and Diversity/Frankfurt Zoo
(Biologicum, Flügel C)
60438 Frankfurt am Main
Telephone: +49 (0)69 798 42100