Exactly a year ago, the Frankfurt Spring School took place and among the participants was also Rinzin Phunjok Lama. He is one of the first conservationists of the Humla district in north-western Nepal and has led several conservation efforts to protect snow leopards, Himalayan wolves, blue sheep and pikas across Nepal’s snow leopard landscapes. In 2018, he and some colleagues managed to photograph snow leopards in the Humla region – it was the first evidence of snow leopards outside of the protected area in Nepal. They also confirmed the recolonization of wolves in the Manang region after more than four decades of its local extinction.

Now, Rinzin won the WWF Nepal Conservation Award, an award that recognizes and honors individuals and organizations at the grassroots level that have made significant contributions to protect Nepal’s rich biodiversity. We congratulate Rinzin to this great achievement and wish him all the best of luck with his work as conservation biologist and conservation program director at Third Pole Conservancy and as executive board member of Mountain Spirit.

IMG_6413Rinzin in the Phu Valley of Manang, Annapurna Conservation Area during a snow leopard and blue sheep survey in the Spring of 2019. © Marc Filla

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Already for the fifth time, the Frankfurt Spring School on Conservation Project Management will take place at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main in spring 2021. Don´t miss your opportunity to participate in Germany’s unique crash course for conservationists from 22 February to 19 March 2021! In four intensive weeks, experienced international experts will train you in conservation project management, human resources and personnel management, financial management, performance skills and organisational development. Besides the interactive workshops at the Goethe University, the programme includes also an excursion to the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park for a first-hand experience of wilderness conservation and a “Speed-Dating” event where you can network with conservation veterans and your Spring School fellows.

Over the last four years, over 120 motivated early career conservationists from across the globe came together to improve their knowledge and skills to successfully manage the world’s conservation challenges. Do you have a passion for conservation, a strong work ethic and the drive to improve? Then, the Frankfurt Spring School is just the place for you.

Click here to learn how to apply! Application deadline is 1st November 2020.


In March, we were a bit too optimistic concerning the corona pandemic when announcing the final presentations of the KfW Foundation scholars for April. But yesterday, was finally the big day and their project proposals and presentations have been evaluated by a KfW Foundation Selection Panel and the winners decided.

First of all, we have to say that all scholars did a great job and their professional and passionate project pitches did not make the panel’s decision easy. At the end, small things made the difference and eventually a decision was made. We are happy to announce that the following three proposals were selected to receive funding from the KfW Foundation and will be implemented by the Spring School scholars:

Francis Mapenga_cutFrancis Mapenga (FZS Zambia) with his project “Implementation of the best monitoring and mitigation methods of human-wildlife conflict in two villages of Mukungule Game Management Area, Zambia.”


Monica Paredes (FZS Peru) with her project “The Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis) conservation: an opportunity for sustainable co-management between native communities and Yaguas National Park, Peru.”

Patty_cutPatricia Roche (WWF Paraguay) with her project “Strengthening conservation processes of Rio Negro National Park, Paraguay.”

Congratulations to Francis, Monica and Patricia and best of luck for the implementation of your projects!


It‘s that time of year again – The Frankfurt Spring School on Conservation Project Management (FSS) returns on Monday! We can‘t believe that it‘s been a year since we welcomed 30 young conservationists to Frankfurt. The first of this year‘s participants are already here. Meet Francis Mapenga from FZS Zambia, Monica Paredes from FZS Peru, and Edmund Tobico from FZS Tanzania. Hattie Hayeck, Communications Intern, and Corinna Van Cayzeele, European Projects’ Communications Assistant, asked them what they are most looking forward to about FSS.

Hattie: Welcome to Frankfurt! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

Francis: “I‘m the Senior Community Conservation Officer for FZS‘ North Luangwa Ecosystem Project. I assist the Technical Advisor in supervising project staff and working with the local communities in protecting the North Luangwa National Park.”

Monica: “I work in Yaguas National Park, trying to protect and conserve this huge area of the Amazon Rainforest. Here, there is a lot of biodiversity, but also many of threats, including governmental conflict, logging, illegal mining, and the historical unsustainable use of the Park‘s resources.”

Edmund: “I work as a GIS and Monitoring Officer for FZS‘ Serengeti Ecosystem Management Project. The project focuses on enabling communities to benefit from the wildlife around them. We support local communities with setting aside designated areas of land for conservation, and help develop community conservation banks that provide loans to local people to start sustainable businesses.”

Corinna: What are you most looking forward to about FSS?

Francis: “Since I’m the second-in-command of my project, project management is very important to me. FSS will develop my project management skills and teach me how to manage a project on my own.”

Monica: “I am excited about developing my abilities and skills so that, when I go back to Peru, I can apply all my knowledge to better protect the area and enhance the lives of people in the local communities.”

Edmund: “FSS is important for me as it‘s all about understanding conservation project management concepts like log frame development, report writing, monitoring, and evaluations. If I can understand these concepts, and apply them back home, I can help improve the efficiency of our project. The FSS is also very important in developing my project concept. Afterwards, I hope to make a difference in conservation back home.”

Thank you very much for your time. Now enjoy Frankfurt and have a great time here at the Spring School.

Organizing the Frankfurt Spring School is a lot of work: setting up the programme and booking trainers are only the most obvious tasks to take care of. Several people are involved, spending hundreds of hours, to get the Spring School running. For the past three years, a core team with representatives from the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the Goethe University and the KfW Foundation organized the Frankfurt Spring School beside their day-to-day jobs. Now, this has changed. Thanks to the Metzler Foundation, the Frankfurt Zoological Society was able to employ for the first time a coordinator for the Frankfurt Spring School 2020 – Stephanie Kalberer.

Since the beginning of her studies in biology in Switzerland,  she has participated in many research and conservation projects worldwide – from Northern Germany to South Africa, Western Australia to Galápagos. Additionally, Stephanie has gained ten years of management experience: at a university, in a biotech company and as a student management consultant. This spring she attended the Frankfurt Spring School herself and was part of the social-media team contributing blog content during that time.


In this post, she answered a couple of questions for us (for the interview in German done by the Metzler Foundation click here):

You have already worked on Galápagos in a nature conservation project – why did you attend the Frankfurt Spring School?

My PhD thesis on “Life History Strategies and Population Dynamics in Galápagos Sea Lions” at the University of Bielefeld in collaboration with the Galápagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation was linked to a research project on Galápagos. The goal was to facilitate future decisions in nature conservation management in Galápagos. My first field season in Galápagos was adventurous: our research material had been lost somewhere on the journey and arrived only three days later, and living with three assistants on an island the size of two soccer fields also brought some complications along. More experience in strategic planning, in dealing with employees as well as in communications and public relations would have made my start a lot smoother. Of course, I’ve learned a lot over the years – learning by doing – but on some topics it helps if you get tips and tricks from experts beforehand. Today, I know how important it is to be able to write good project applications, have strategic development and business plans, and handle finances and budgets appropriately.

What did you expect from this course and what was your highlight?

The four weeks were some of the best and most instructive in my entire academic career – it was inspiring, hands-on and I got insights that I wish I had received years ago. There were many highlights. The welcome speech by the FZS Director Dr. Christof Schenck was impressive. He showed very clearly that we have to act now, if we want to leave a livable planet for the next generation. The project planning training with Martin Davies and Nick Folkard was also remarkable. Being trained by people who have already raised millions in conservation funding around the world is very helpful. On top of theoretical knowledge we always had a direct link to real projects: six early career conservationists from across the globe participated in the Spring School as well. Besides attending the course, they developed a funding proposal for a conservation project in their home countries. Having had these international scholars of the KfW Foundation was very useful and something that I will continue to benefit from in the future. Workshops on social skills and leadership have given me new insights, which I was able to implement immediately after the Spring School in my research on Galápagos. Last but not least, during the four weeks, friendships and a network were created that I would not want to do without anymore. All this has made the Spring School to what it was – unique four weeks that I would like to experience again.

Why did you apply for the position of the Spring School Coordinator? On which aspects do you want  to focus?

After this year’s Spring School, I was inspired, motivated, and grateful that I was able to spend such an instructive time with such great people. Now, I want to make sure that other future conservation project leaders can make the same great experience. I fully support the concept and want to continue and further improve the Spring School. As an alumnus I am also interested in building a Spring School alumni network that will grow each year. A strong professional network is essential for successful nature conservation – together we can always achieve more than alone.

Thus, I am really looking forward to the Frankfurt Spring School 2020 and to meet the new generation of nature conservationists. Don´t hesitate to drop an email at info@frankfurtspringschool.de if you have any questions – I am always happy to help!