Country, Date of election
Sabina Pieruzek-Nowak has demonstrated that education at the local level can transform attitudes about killing predatory animals such as wolves, and make environmental activists out of local people.
Many animal species in Poland and Central Europe face severe population decline from human–imposed threats such as hunting, poaching, and destruction of habitat. Despite government protection of endangered species, hunters and poachers are tacitly accepted in many parts of the region. Natural predators such as the gray wolf (strictly protected in Poland), which feed mostly on ungulates but sometimes on domesticated animals, are at special risk, as farmers strive to protect their livestock by illegally hunting them, or try to force the return of the wolf on a game list.
After distributing the first version of the manual to farmers, Sabina worked to extend her efforts through an existing network of conservationists. From 1996 she trained the staff of many different institutions, foresters, and hunters. In conjunction with the Mammal Research Institute she developed a large–scale wolf and lynx population density project in Poland. Her approach resulted also in a new law in 1998, which protects wolves in throughout the country. Sabina has made frequent television appearances, including many on the series “Animals,” and other current programs on Polish public television.
Rather than blindly condemn those who illegally hunt wolves and other predators, Sabina tries to establish common ground for cooperation among farmers, foresters, hunters, householders, government officials, and the community at large. She avoids the sort of accusatory environmental rhetoric that irritates and alienates the very audience it aims to persuade. Sabina’s organization, has demonstrated how to change fear and anger into solutions and support. It seeks to transform local communities in areas which are most adversely affected by natural predators into committed advocates for wolves as well as for broader environmental aims.
Mission of the Association for Nature WOLF is to protect endangered species and preserve their habitats. They would like to became a centre of excellence in research and education on carnivores and their habitats, working to achieve best practice in their conservation and management in Poland and abroad.
Trained as biologist, Sabina initially pursued a career as a regional conservationist. In the late 1980s she moved from her government post to the civil sector. In 1996, Sabina focused on working with predators and started Association for Nature WOLF. As a Ph.D. candidate she conducts studies on wolf ecology and conservation problems in the Western Beskidy Mountains, as well as wolf monitoring methods.