Conservation Champions Feature in Mail&Guardian Top 200

top 200 youth mgMail and Guardian recently published their 2013 Mail & Guardian Young South African edition listing the top 200 young South Africans.  Included on this list and doing us proud are conservation champions Rupert Koopman from CapeNature, and Dina Townsend from the Centre for Environmental Rights.

The Mail & Guardian's annual list of the country's top 200 young South Africans has become the premier collection of the leaders of tomorrow – and in many cases, today as they look for people aged 35 and under, who are full of talent, dreams and drive.  Since January this year the search has been on to find the top 200 young South Africans.  ‘It’s a considerable undertaking, with half-a-dozen researchers independently scouring the country for months searching for interesting young people doing amazing things’, stated Tanya Pampalone, Executive Editor, Mail & Guardian.

Rupert Koopman completed his BSc at the University of the Western Cape in 2007 and worked as an environmental consultant before taking on a targeted botany internship with SANBI’s Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers Programme, and then with CapeNature.  As part of CapeNature’s Stewardship Programme, Koopman focuses on convincing landowners adjacent to CapeNature’s protected areas to voluntarily form part of the protected-area network. 

 Using every opportunity to encourage a culture of volunteerism, which, he believes, is the wellspring of self-actualisation, Koopman seeks to raise awareness of the natural environment and to foster a greater commitment to their conservation.  

In 2011, Koopman was elected chairman of the Kirstenbosch branch of the Botanical Society of South Africa, and also serves on the council of the Botanical Society, through which he works towards his goal of winning the hearts and minds of various sectors of society to ensure that our great biological heritage is maintained for future generations.   In 2012, Koopman was awarded a Fynbos Conservation Award, for his passion and dedication to conservation in the Cape Floristic Region.

Dina Townsend was employed at the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) as an environmental lawyer, helping to lead the charge of accountable environmental and water management in South Africa’s mines. 

Growing up in Johannesburg’s Crown Mines, Townsend was surrounded by a very forward-thinking community with many of her neighbours being activists and this affected her from an early age developing a strong interest in making a difference in people’s lives.  After graduating from the University of Cape Town she landed a position in a private law firm, but left soon afterwards.  “I felt a string pull to work on environmental justice issues,” said Townsend and went on to study for a Master’s Degree in Environmental Law at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. 

Upon returning to South Africa she joined the CER, where she has been instrumental in the facilitation of a community activist network in the field of mining and environmental justice and has led the centre’s work on improving transparency in environmental governance.  The Table Mountain Fund (TMF), was instrumental in the establishment of the CER and continues to work with and support the organisation.

Visit the website for a full list of the Mail & Guardian 200 South Africans for 2013

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