Manfred Niekisch obtained his PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) at the University of Bonn/DE with a study on the dispersal strategies of the yellow-bellied toad. From 1983 to 1989 he was director for species conservation of World Wildlife Fund Germany and the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network TRAFFIC. Between 1989 and 1998 he was Executive Director of OroVerde, Foundation for tropical forests. In 1998 he became Professor for International Nature Conservation at the University of Greifswald/DE - the only professorship of that kind in the German-speaking world. In March 2008, he took over as director of Frankfurt Zoo, which he is developing into an international nature conservation centre. At the Universities of Marburg/DE and Hanoi/Vietnam and the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía in Baeza/ES, he is lecturing on international nature conservation. In 2010 he furthermore received the nomination as professor for international nature conservation at Goethe-University Frankfurt. His scientific work lies particularly in both strategies and instruments for the sustainable use of natural resources, aiming especially at the conservation of biological diversity; furthermore, he is working on international conventions with relevance to nature conservation. Niekisch is the author of numerous publications and co-editor of the Journal for Nature Conservation. He has working experience in many countries, with a focus on Vietnam and Latin America.

Niekisch is active in many honorary functions, among others as President of the Society for Tropical Ecology (gtö), Vice-President of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), Vice-President of the “Help for the Threatened Wildlife Foundation”, Chairman of the foundation OroVerde, and as Chairman of the board of trustees of the Bruno-H.-Schubert foundation. He is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN (SSC) as well as the Comité Científico (Fundación Natura) and honorary member of the Fundación Humedales (both Columbia) and of the advisory board of the Global Nature Fund. For 17 years, he was active as the first vice-president of the German League for Nature and Environment. In 2004, at the 3rd World Conservation Congress, he was re-elected to the Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), where he also held the chairmanship of the Programme and Policy Committee. After the two maximum possible terms, this occupation ended in 2008. In the same year, he was appointed to the Council of the Senckenberg Naturforschende Gesellschaft and – by the German Federal Governmentof Germany – to the Federal Council on the Environment (SRU).


About the Global Exploration Fund

The National Geographic Society has funded the work of curious and inquiring men and women in every corner of the Earth—filling gaps in human knowledge, sometimes in spectacular ways. Since 1888, National Geographic has awarded more than 10,000 grants representing a combined value of $153 million. Scientific field research, exploration, conservation, and adventure are the backbone of National Geographic’s grants, which have led to countless discoveries that continue to shed light on the planet’s rich variety and diversity—and help to preserve it. The results from fieldwork are shared with audiences around the world through an array of National Geographic media, including print, broadcast, and online outlets, as well as events, exhibitions, and educational platforms.

The Global Exploration Fund is a global initiative modeled on National Geographic’s century-long approach to funding research, conservation, and exploration projects through targeted grant programs. Supported through funding partnerships, National Geographic plans to launch regional Global Exploration Funds around the world. Each fund will rely upon an intensive peer-review process to evaluate projects seeking funding and an advisory board of scientific and innovation experts to help guide the program to achieve regional priorities. The grantees and outcomes supported by the fund will benefit from National Geographic media and outreach.

National Geographic launched the Global Exploration Fund in 2011 in Sweden to extend support to scientists, conservationists, and explorers from the Northern Europe region who are advancing research and exploring solutions for the benefit of the planet. In 2012, the Global Exploration Fund expanded to China with a dedicated Air and Water Conservation Fund designed to focus China’s most creative scientific and conservation talent on solving problems confronting the country’s air and water resources.

Photos From the Field

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    Love Bugs

    A Closer Look Into the Love Lives of Insects

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    Exploring Lost Places

    National Geographic is committedas we have been for more than a centuryto supporting new archaeology projects around the world.

Meet the Explorers

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    Explorers A-Z

    At the heart of our explorers program is the quest for knowledge through exploration and the people who make it possible.

  • Photo: Michael Lombardi diving

    Explorers by Category

    Browse our different areas of exploration and discover the fascinating people behind the projects.

Our Explorers in Action