Mgr inż. Rafał Maciaszek (Msc), PhD student at the Department of Animal Genetics and Conservation, Faculty of Animal Sciences was awarded the main prize for the Alien Hunter project in “The Climate Man of the Year 2021” competition, organized by the Ministry of Climate and Environment. The interest in the competition was great. Approximately 6.500 votes were cast in the last phase of the contest.
The Climate Man of the Year is a pilot project initiated by the Youth Climate Council at the
Ministry of Climate and Environment. It was carried out with the support of the National Centre For Climate Change. (PIB-IOŚ).
The competition is intended for people aged 16-30 who are involved in climate protection initiatives. Its aim is to select and reward the winner for their pro-social or educational activities to protect the climate, limit the effects of climate change and adapt to it.
The latest gala took place on 29 November at the Ministry of Climate and Environment with the participation of Deputy Minister Adam Guibourgé-Czetweryński. Mr. Rafał Maciaszek was awarded the title of the Climate Man of the Year 2021, a diploma and a statuette.
Rafał Maciaszek is the initiator of the Alien Hunter campaign, aimed at locating and monitoring species of non-native plants and animals released into Polish open waters.
As part of the Alien Hunter initiative, the following websites were created: www.lowcaobcych.pl and www.facebook.com/LowcaObcych, where one may find information on non-native species, their impact on the natural environment and economy, actions taken in order to control them. Some educational posters, methods to identify individual species and how to proceed in the event of their identification are also published there.
The most important results of the initiative are as follows: increasing general awareness of alien species in Polish waters, introducing the topic of invasive species to some primary and secondary schools’ programme, withdrawing invasive species from sale at the most popular advertising portals and the biggest pet stores in Poland, as well as creating the largest domestic asylum for alien turtle species.
During the two-year activity of the Alien Hunter, over 100 articles and interviews were published in national magazines, radio and television. There was also the first Polish cartoon revealing the problem of “releasing” aquarium animals into the wild, or to be more precise, abandoning them – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSkU0WRQEww.
Rafał Maciaszek serves as an expert for nature protection initiatives, such as developing a method for catching invasive crayfish and turtles species, to be used when implementing the provisions of the Act on alien species, for all local governments in Poland. Moreover, he conducts environmental monitoring in order to protect noble crayfish.
He is also an official Polish delegate to the Scientific Forum on Invasive Alien Species at the EU Commission.
It is worth noting that in addition to the main prize for the Climate Man of the Year, two distinctions were also awarded in the Ministry competition.
The first person to be recognized was Weronika Urbańska, an expert in the field of effective and rational waste management, involved in the #Trashtagchallenge 2 event, aimed at promoting pro-ecological attitudes among students of the largest universities in Wrocław, by joint cleaning up.
Another person was Małgorzata Terrero-Rozmus, a founder of IG Rething profile, where she encourages its followers to take day-to-day activities for the climate benefits, as well she tries to popularize knowledge about climate change and the environment in general.