Remembering Ilkka Hanski

(1953-2016)

Last week marked one of the saddest moments of my so far career as I learned that my previous lab director, mentor and a friend Prof Ilkka Hanski had passed away. Ilkka was the director of the Metapopulation Research Centre (MRC), a Finnish Center of Excellence, where I had the privilege of doing both my MSc and PhD. In addition to being an amazing, multi-awarded scientist, Ilkka was a much loved group leader.

Ilkka_telling_jokes
Happy memories. Ilkka delivering his little personalized present to me in the celebration of my PhD defense. (Yep, it’s pretty formal in Finland). Photo: Evgeniy Meyke.

Together with my great colleagues here at QAECO we wrote a little tribute to Ilkka. I feel that so many more great things could have been said of him, but I hope we managed to pay homage to some of his many achievements.

A loss of a loved one is always a tremendously sad moment and my thoughts are with Ilkka’s family and friends back in Helsinki. In the past week I have talked to some of my old colleagues from MRC, many of who now live around the world, sharing memories of Ilkka and the wonderful time we had with him. It warms my heart that not only Ilkka’s brilliant work but also his amazing working philosophy is being carried forward by the many new generations of wonderful researchers he trained, directly or indirectly, during his career.

Goodbye Ilkka. And thank you.

 

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PADDDtracker – a new web tool to see where conservation takes steps back

A couple years back Michael Mascia and Sharon Pailler published an interesting paper where they reviewed how protected area downgrading (=decrease in legal protection), downsizing (=decrease in area) and degazettement (=loss of entire PA) – or PADDD as they call it – has taken place around the world. I really enjoyed reading this paper and think that it was a great opening on a very important topic. We’ve all heard news about relaxing protected area regulations to allow, for example, mining activities within protected sites. But it’s important to keep in mind that PADDD actions are not always negative as they can help us to solve complex social issues that are critical to the effectiveness of the protected areas (such as re-establishing the rights of indigenous people on their land). Continue reading