The Succow Foundation

In 1999 Michael Succow founded this foundation with the prize money of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, awarded to him in 1997. It is one of the first non-profit nature conservation foundations in the new German states. The Succow Foundation is an operational foundation and is active both nationally and internationally. Its guiding principles are: "Preserve, sustain, value".

Initially, the Succow Foundation was involved in the development and protection of national parks and biosphere reserves in post-Soviet countries with just a handful of employees. In the meantime, it has grown to more than 30 employees and engages in projects on four continents on climate protection, protected areas, sustainable land use and the promotion of young people. Thanks to the expertise of its employees and the foundation's board, it is well positioned in all landscapes - from peatlands to deserts.

The Succow Foundation maintains close cooperation with scientific institutions, above all with the Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology at the University of Greifswald. It is a founding member and partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre established in 2015, and in the established in 2018. The foundation maintains Memoranda of Understanding with other national and international research institutions, such as the National Institute for Deserts, Flora and Fauna in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

In northeastern Germany, the Succow Foundation itself has more than ten areas in its care, among them several nature reserves. Most of these areas the Succow Foundation took over from the National Natural Heritage. Nature in these areas is to develop as undisturbed by human intervention as possible. Special nature experience offers are designed to convey an understanding of why these conservationist efforts are important.

The Succow Foundation has committed itself to the principles of good foundation practices of the Association of German Foundations (Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen e. V.). It is a member of the Transparent Civil Society Initiative (Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft ) and the One-World Network Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Ein-Welt-Landesnetzwerk Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).

1. Development and Support of World Heritage Sites, National Parks and Biosphere Reserves on the National and International Level

Encouraged by the success of the GDR’s national park programme around the time of the German reunification, we are facing the challenge to help create large-scale protected areas in the transformational countries of the former Soviet bloc. Here we place particular importance on achieving international certification as UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites, or National Parks according to IUCN criteria for as many of these areas as possible.

2. Protection and Development of Wetlands, especially Peatlands and Swamps

We owe this goal to the scientific work of our founder, who dedicated much of his life to the study and protection of peatland ecosystems on a worldwide scale.

3. Advancing the Concept of Nature Conservation through Scientific Research, Ecological Education and Public Relations Work

Information, illumination and the furthering of scientific research for the protection of nature – these are tasks that belong to a comprehensive conservation programme.

4. Promotion of International Relations in Nature Conservation and Ecology

In this time of economic globalisation it is necessary for conservation efforts to be organised on an international level, as well. Therefore, the majority of our projects takes place in the transformational countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Prof em. Dr. Michael Succow

Dr. Lebrecht Jeschke

Dr. Lebrecht Jeschke is a well-known Greifswald biologist. Together with Hans Dieter Knapp, Matthias Freude and Michael Succow he developed the national park programme, which is meanwhile considered exemplary worldwide. He directed Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's National Park Administration from 1991 to 1998. Until the age of 70, he was an active member of the foundation board. Since then, he is a honorary member with expertise on forest issues and nature conservation areas in Germany.


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joosten

Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans Joosten is peatland and landscape ecologist, professor for Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology and director of the working group on Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology at the University of Greifswald. The working group hosts the general secretariat of the  International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG). Prof. Dr. Hans Joosten is general secretary of this international organisation for peatland protection. Within the foundation, he is in charge of the connection to the University of Greifswald's Institute for Botany and Landscape Ecology, he supervises the scientific quality and integrity, and establishes contact with international peatland and climate protection science as well as climate protection policy.


Prof. Dr. Hans Dieter Knapp

Prof. Dr. Hans Dieter Knapp is geo-botanist and landscape-ecologist. He is one of the initiators of the Eastern German national park programme, and the International Academy for Nature Conservation Island of Vilm. Until his retirement he has been director of this branch office of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. As a honorary professor he also lectures at the Greifswald University. He initiated the “European Beech Forest Initiative”, he was instrumental in the nomination of beech forests of Germany and Europe to the World Heritage List of UNESCO and involved in further nominations in Russia, Mongolia, Iran and Georgia. His focus within the foundation lies on projects of international cooperation in Eurasia. 


Dr. Hartmut Kretschmer

As a biologist, Dr. Hartmut Kretschmer was engaged in agro-ecological research for many years. In 1997 he became deputy director of the State Institute for Protected Areas in Brandenburg and later head of the Department of Protected Areas in the State Environmental Agency until his retirement. He was mainly involved in the implementation and design of the large-scale protected area programme for Brandenburg, for which amongst others Michael Succow had previously laid an essential basis.
He is one of the co-founders of NABU Brandenburg, and was its 1st chairman for many years. Today, he is still active on the board. Hartmut Kretschmer has been particularly involved in the transfer of federal nature conservation areas to nature conservation foundations and associations in Germany largely free of costs. He continuously advises on the management of such areas in Brandenburg.
Dr. Kretschmer has been a member of the foundation's advisory board since 2019.

Dr. Sebastian Schmidt

Dr. Sebastian Schmidt is a biologist and landscape ecologist with the "Greifswald imprint" of nature conservation. Following his studies in vegetation and soil science, he headed and shaped the development of the Miachel Succow Foundation between 2009 and 2015. His current work focusses on protected area development, especially in Iran, international nature protection and development cooperation. In 2016 he founded the charitable FINC Foundation, a grassroot organisation for nature conservation and land use change on national and international level.


Kathrin Succow

Since 2013, Kathrin Succow has been working as a freelance author, moderator and consultant in the establishment and consultancy of foundations and associations. She is managing partner of Ditare et Donare GbR, based in Munich and Berlin. From 2007 to 2012 she was general manager and director of the foundation unit for the private bank Hauck & Aufhäuser Privatbankiers KGaA, later Merck Finck & Co. Privatbankiers and several years managing director of the Hauck & Aufhäuser Culture Foundation.
Before, Kathrin Succow was in charge of the Association of German Foundations' media and communications unit. After directing the public relations of regional nature protection administrations in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern from 1991 to 1996, she directed the nature experience centre Blumberger Mühle until 2004. Since 1999 she has been supporting the establishment of her father's foundation, served as its first director and is a member of the board since 2004. 

Agency for Forests, Nature and Landscape, Liechtenstein

Baku State University, Aserbaidschan

Bernhard and Ursula Plettner-Foundation, Berlin

Büchting + Streit AG, Munich

Cassiopeia Foundation, Düsseldorf

Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), Osnabrück

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Bonn/Eschborn

Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), Radolfzell

Dieter-Mennekes-Foundation, Kirchhundem

Environmental Foundation Michael Otto, Hamburg

European Commission / EuropeAid

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation

Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Berlin/Bonn

Fondation pour les animaux du monde, Liechtenstein

Gerda Techow Foundation, Liechtenstein

grassroots foundation, Warendorf

H.E.M. Foundation, Liechtenstein

Institute of sustainable development of lanscapes of the earth (DUENE e.V.), Geifswald

International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG)

International Academy for Nature Conservation, Vilm

Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Frankfurt am Main

Kurt-Lange-Stiftung, Bielefeld

Regional Government Authority of Liechtenstein

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Müncheberg

Lindenbaum GmbH, Karlsruhe

Manfred Hermsen Foundation, Bremen

Marion Dönhoff Foundation, Hamburg

MAVA Foundation, Switzerland

Ministry of Agriculture, the Environment and Consumer Protection of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schwerin

Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Azerbaijan

Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), Berlin

NaturSchutzFonds, Brandenburg

Norddeutsche Stiftung für Umwelt und Entwicklung (NUE), Hamburg

Seetel Hotel GmbH & Co. Betriebs – KG, Ahlbeck/Usedom

Sonnenwiese Foundation, Liechtenstein

Sparkasse Vorpommern, Greifswald

Studiosus Foundation e.V., Munich

Stiftung Feuchtgebiete (Wetland Foundation), Horst

Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C), Kolbjørnsvik/Norway

Federal Environment Agency, Dessau-Roßlau

National institute of deserts, flora and fauna of the Ministry of nature protection of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat

University of Greifswald

University of Urmia, Iran

University Town and Hanseatic City of Greifswald

vitalogue GmbH & Co KG, Munich

WERK3 - Agency for Advertisement and PR, Rostock

Special thanks to the donor family of the "Eva-Kleinn-Grant", which encourages young scientists who work in transition countries of the East for the protection of nature.

We thank everyone who supports our work once or permanently.