Biosphere Expeditions was founded in 1999 by Dr. Matthias Hammer. Born in Germany, he went to school there, before joining the Army, and serving for several years amongst other units with the German Parachute Regiment. After active service he came to the UK and was educated at St Andrews, Oxford and Cambridge. During his time at university he either organised or was involved in the running of several expeditions, some of which were conservation expeditions (for example to the Brazil Amazon and Madagascar), whilst others were mountaineering/climbing expeditions (for example to the Russian Caucasus, the Alps or the Rocky Mountains). With Biosphere Expeditions he has led teams all over the globe. He is a qualified wilderness medical officer, ski instructor, mountain leader, divemaster and survival skills instructor. Once a rower on the international circuit, he is now an amateur marathon runner and Ironman triathlete.

More information in a press release

Pictures of Matthias Hammer

Profile and scientific publications on ResearchGate

Selection of media clippings on Issuu

In English: Interview with FLUX magazine: ‘It’s a system not fit for purpose’ about neoliberalism and the planet
Go to interview

In English: Interview with Siobhan Leyden of Dubai Eye's Green Team about Biosphere Expeditions and its expeditions, especially those in the Middle East

In English: Classic interview with Australia's ABC radio presenter Richard Stubbs, talking about Biosphere Expeditions and the new Melbourne office

In English: Interview for the Afternoon Show with Geraldine Mellet on ABC Perth talking about Biosphere Expeditions and the new Melbourne office

In English: Interview with Carole Whitelock on ABC Adelaide talking about Biosphere Expeditions and the new Melbourne office

In English: Interview with Tim Webster on 2UE Sydney talking about Biosphere Expeditions and the new Melbourne office

In English: Interview feature on Biosphere Expeditions, concentrating mainly on Namibia expedition

In German: Interview with Christian Froelicher of the German language programme of SBS Australia

In German: Follow-up interview with Christian Froelicher of the German language programme of SBS Australia

Reef Check

Hero of the Reef: Dr. Matthias Hammer is named a "Hero of the Reef" by Reef Check, a reef conservation NGO

Future 50  

Future 50: Dr. Matthias Hammer is named in the Future 50 class of "ones to watch".

"Defender of the Planet" (2010)

"Eco Champion" (2015)

In 2017 friends and staff of Biosphere Expeditions initiated a nomination for Dr. Matthias Hammer for the UN's "Champion of the Earth" award. This award is the UN’s highest environmental honour. It is conferred to individuals or organisations that have made outstanding contributions to the protection and restoration of the environment. They wrote to staff, friends, scientists, placements, citizen science participants to ask for support. Below are some responses they received in support of the nomination and the instigation of the campaign.


My name is Sven Strohschein and I am the president of the “Friends of Biosphere Expeditions”, a society of individuals that supports Biosphere Expeditions’ mission and aims. In my opinion Dr. Hammer truly is a Champion of the Earth and I recommend him for this award. Because of this, I instigated this application and sought out other people who have all been empowered and inspired by Dr. Hammer and by Biosphere Expeditions’ actions in wildlife research and conservation. We, the undersigned, therefore make this application for and on behalf of Dr. Hammer, without his knowledge and as a sign of appreciation. We hope this too shows how deserving of the award he is. > Sven Strohschein (German), citizen science participant and President of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions.

Support messages

This is a great gesture and really Matthias deserves this more than anyone else I know. Thank you for approaching me as someone who has been empowered by him so much. I really hope that he will be chosen, he deserves it. > Jenan Alasfoor (Oman), local placement and President of Reef Check Oman

I support Matthias Hammer, I was a local volunteer (placement) for the Tien-Shan Expedition 2015. > Nurzhan Alymkanova (Kyrgyzstan), local placement

I have been on Matthias’ Biosphere Expeditions to Namibia, Brazil and Spain (he was on the two latter ones himself, so I had the pleasure of getting out know him a little) and am delighted that this exceptionally inspired, gifted and talented man may be entered for the UN’s Champion of the Earth award. I would be very happy to give my full support to your proposal, and wish you and Matthias every success. > Marjorie Beebee (UK), citizen science participant

Working with Matthias Hammer and Biosphere Expeditions is an inspiration. I've been working with Matthias since 2008 and his passion and commitment to protecting the environment has never faded, on the contrary, it has grown every year and reached others. The world needs more people like this that not only inspire us, but also show us the way. > Rita Bento (UAE & Brazil), Emirates Diving Association and scientist for the Musandam coral reef expedition

Yes, please include my name. > Jim Blomgren (USA), citizen science participant

Yes I will support that. I have been on several Altai expeditions and a couple in Oman. > Roger Bunce (UK), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

I'm happy to add my name. I've been on a few expeditions with Biosphere. > Katie Bunting (UK), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

Count me in as a supporter - Board Chair of Reef Check. Let me know what you need from me and let’s hope he wins! > Helen Bierley (USA), Board Chair, Reef Check Foundation

I would be very happy to support this campaign for Matthias to be identified as a UN Champion of the Earth. I run Operation Wallacea which does similar work to Biosphere and think that Matthias has built an excellent organisation that is doing a lot for wildlife research and conservation. His is a very professional set up and should be fully supported. > Dr Tim Coles OBE (UK), Project Director and Founder, Operation Wallacea

I am more than happy to support this application. I have been an expedition leader for Biosphere Expeditions for 5 years, and led expeditions in 5 different countries. > Catherine Edsell (UK), Biosphere Expeditions staff

I definitely support the nomination of Matthias for the UN’s “Champion of the Earth”. I have worked with Matthias as an Expedition Leader with Biosphere Expeditions over many years and have seen how passionate he is about protecting the natural world and supporting conservation research. > Paul Franklin (UK), Ecologist and Expedition Leader

I think this is a brilliant idea and would be a very well-deserved accolade for Matthias. I have been a volunteer on seven BE expeditions since 2011, with an eighth booked for later this year and the intention to go on many more expeditions in the coming years. I am a life member of the Friends. Please include my name on the application for Matthias to be named as a Champion of the Earth and I wish you every success for the award. > Neil Goodall (UK), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

I have been on 3 previous Biosphere expeditions & support the application. > John Highet (UK), citizen science participant

I'm happy to be one of the supporters of the application. My relationship is having participated in several expeditions organized by Biosphere Expeditions. > Dagmar Hofmeister (Germany), citizen science participant

This sounds fantastic & what a great idea! It is a well-deserved nomination. I wouldn't change a thing that you have written. Please do add my name. I have been on 3 separate expeditions in Namibia. > Stacy Hoover (USA), citizen science participant

I am happy to support this nomination which would be well deserved. I have been on five Biosphere expeditions, 2 to Peru, 1 to Brazil, 1 to Sumatra and 1 to Namibia. > Bob Hussey (UK), citizen science participant

Brillant idea, wonderful text! I have no further comments, Sounds perfect!! I spent two weeks in the desert of Oman with Matthias and his team. I think it was in winter 2011 (goodness, it's been quite a while...and definitely time for another expedition!). Thank you so much for your idea and initiative! > Gunda Janowski (Germany), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

This is a great idea! I fully support the application you suggest. You may put my name into the application. I participated last year in the Tien Shan expedition and became a member of Biosphere Expeditions e.V. afterwards. > Michael Krause (Germany), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

Even though I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to join one of the expeditions yet I admire Dr. Hammers work and that he was and is able to thrill the people to help making this planet a better place. Being only friend of a Friend of Biosphere Expeditions I nevertheless feel inspired by what Dr. Matthias Hammer is doing and believe that he deserves the „Champion of the Earth“ award. > Stephan Krontal (Sweden), "Fan and follower"

I am happy to support Matthias Hammer's nomination. I am Dr. Chris Lee, owner of Blue Hill Nature Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa. With my son Dr. Alan Lee, we have hosted two Biosphere Expeditions, and a third expedition is scheduled for October 2017. The relationship with Biosphere is cordial and fruitful, and we hope it will continue. > Dr. Chris A Lee (South Africa), Blue Hill Nature Reserve.

This is a very nice idea. Please mention me on the application. > Tessa Merrie (Germany), Biosphere Expeditions staff

My name is Axinja Munkel. I attended 3 expeditions in Altai, Oman and Namibia starting back in 2008. Matthias is not just an inspirational leader and role model conservationist. With his concept of volunteering and building a community around nature conservation projects, he has found a very intelligent way of building a win-win situation for projects which need funding and the desire of people to make a difference, tell a story to family and friends and be a role-model. The system is fundamentally different to just donating as it gives people unprecedented experiences and impressive stories to tell. So, the concept is not just convincing because of the outcomes, but also because of the clever setup of the organization, which has an impact on peoples' mindset and the creation of a network of role models for the benefit of our planet. > Axinja Munkel (Germany), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

Thank you for your email and I definitely endorse your application to make Matthias Hammer a ' UN Champion of the Earth, which would be well deserved. I have been on 4 Biosphere Expeditions and have loved them all and have learnt so much from them. Without Matthias' hard work this would not have been possible. Please add my name to your list of supporters for this application. > Maggie Neal (South Africa), citizen science participant

I gladly support this and hope that Matthias wins. I experienced outstanding preparation, organisation and goal-oriented execution during the Tien Shan snow leopard expedition in 2016. I also thought that involving the local population was sustainable and beneficial. > Carola Neumann (Germany), citizen science participant

Thank you for your email and information on putting Matthias Hammer forward for the UN's "Champions of the Earth" award. I think it's a great idea and I'm happy to lend my support for this. I spent 6 summers in the Altai on the snow leopard project, and then went to S. Africa last year on the Cape Leopard project. I think Biosphere Expeditions has been a great leader and has set a marvellous example for nature conservation world-wide and, as you say, all due to the energy and inspiration of Matthias Hammer and his team. I hope the application is successful; it would be a tremendous boost both for Matthias and for Biosphere Expeditions! > Christine Newall (UK), citizen science participant

Yes, I would like to add my name to support this application. Connection to Biosphere: completed 3 volunteer expeditions: Namibia 2012, Azores 2016 & Germany 2017. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet Dr Hammer on the inaugural wolf research project in Lûneburger Heide. > Brian Oikawa (Canada), citizen science participant

I am Peter Pilbeam, a 'Friend of Biosphere Expeditions' and (as far as am aware) Biosphere's 'best customer'. Wrong words to use, but I'm the person who's been on the most expeditions. I am happy to lend my support to the application. > Peter Pilbeam (UK), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

Yes, you do have my support for this initiative and can mention me in the submission. I have been on 14 expeditions many of which have involved Matthias in the field and I am your predecessor as President of the Friends. Good luck with this. It is a great idea. > Martyn Roberts (UK), citizen science participant and member of the Friends of Biosphere Expeditions

I would be happy to support his nomination. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr Hammer on a snow leopard research expedition to the Tien Shan mountains. > Neil S. (Australia & Japan), citizen science participant

I'd be happy for my name to be included on this nomination – it’s a great idea, I loved my expeditions. > Karen Smith (UK), citizen science participant

Yes, I am willing to join you in nominating Matthias for UN Champion. We are a grant-giving organisation and have made a grant to help Biosphere Expeditions. I remain very impressed with his blogs and the information that comes through. I am most interested in his work in Oman and we have had various conversations about this. I agree with you - he is a very impressive man! I await to hear what to do next, but you may add my name to your list > Heather Stevens (UK), Chair of Trustees, The Waterloo Foundation

Great idea and I am happy to endorse this! > Louisa Trunks (UK), MD of Elephant Tree Consulting.

I've been to three expeditions to Oman with Biosphere and believe that Biosphere is perhaps the most ethical and dedicated organisation that offers volunteers the chance to make a difference to the world's declining wildlife. > Toby Whaley (UK), citizen science participant