Verena Keller, chair of the EBBA2 Atlas Steering Committee, receives a prestigious international award

Verena Keller of the Swiss Ornithological Institute (SOI) in Sempach has been awarded the Marsh Award for International Ornithology by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Verena works in the Monitoring Department at SOI and is a board member of the European Bird Census Council (EBCC). She has been a formidable force, leading the work on EBCC’s European Breeding Bird Atlas (EBBA2) project for the last 10 years. She is Chair of the Atlas Steering Committee and has done a fantastic job steering this enormous, critically important project to planned publication in December 2020. Through her personal and professional contacts mainly in Switzerland, she has also secured much of the financial investment needed for the project.

Verena’s key interest, aside from atlasing, is waterbird monitoring. As a Swiss delegate for Wetlands International and a member of the steering group of the African-Eurasian Monitoring Partnership, she contributed to securing the International Waterbird Census. In her senior science role at SOI, she has continued to publish widely on waterbird monitoring in Europe. Verena has also coordinated the development of concepts for priority setting for bird conservation in Switzerland, with a focus on the international responsibility of the country. Researchgate lists 90 publications that she has authored/co-authored.

Dawn Balmer, nominating Verena for the award, said “As EBBA2 National Coordinator for the UK, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with Verena over the last eight years to bring together bird data from across the UK to contribute to this hugely important publication, which will be used by birdwatchers, conservationists and policy makers across Europe. Verena, working with coordination teams in Barcelona and Prague has ensured excellent fieldwork coverage across Europe, timely submission of data and the unenviable task of coordinating species experts  across Europe to deliver 556 species accounts. Verena has chaired the Atlas Steering Committee, overseeing all aspects of this monumental project with efficiency and good humour, she is a very worthy recipient of this award.”

Verena Keller, said, “I would like to thank BTO and the Marsh Christian Trust for this generous award. It is an honour for me to receive it and I also see it as recognition of the work of the European Bird Census Council and its network of partners across Europe.

The Marsh Award for International Ornithology is awarded to an individual scientist whose work on the international stage has had a significant influence on British ornithology, especially as reflected in the work of BTO scientists and volunteers.

Verena Keller has never missed an opportunity for birdwatching after intensive EBCC meetings. Watching Northern hawk-owl after the meeting of the EBCC Board in Finland.

The Marsh Award for International Ornithology is awarded to an individual scientist whose work on the international stage has had significant influence on British ornithology, especially as reflected in the work of BTO scientists and volunteers.

The Marsh Christian Trust was founded in 1981 by its current Chairman, Mr Brian Marsh OBE. From the outset the Trust has aimed to create long-standing relationships with the organisations it supports and partners through both its principle areas of work; the Grants Programme and the Awards Scheme. The Trust supports around 350 charities every year through the Grants Programme and gives around 80 different Awards to individuals and groups from across the charity sector, who make a difference to a cause that they believe in.
BTO is the UK’s leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to BTO’s surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Belfast (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. BTO’s work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.