BirdLife Awards announced
Every four years at the World Conference and Global Partnership Meeting, BirdLife recognise the achievements of the people and organisations which support and promote its mission, programme and conservation priorities worldwide. The winners of the BirdLife International Awards are selected by BirdLife's Council from nominations submitted from within the BirdLife Partnership.
The most prestigious individual award, the 2008 President's Medal, was presented by BirdLife's Honorary President, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan, to Dr Luc Hoffmann and his son André Hoffmann. Dr Luc Hoffmann has played an active part in the development and governance of national and international institutions, including the Ramsar Convention and IUCN. He served on the Executive Committee of BirdLife's predecessor, the International Council for Bird Preservation, and has been a Founder Patron of BirdLife, contributing significant financial support to the Secretariat's operating budget. Through family foundations he also contributes to various BirdLife programmes. André Hoffmann became the first Founder Patron after working with BirdLife's previous Treasurer, Tasso Leventis, and CEO Mike Rands, to create the BirdLife Founder Patron scheme. The Hoffmann family have long been active members and Patrons of the Rare Bird Club.
There were two new Members of Honour, people who have made a significant contribution to the growth, governance, finances and conservation strategy of BirdLife International over at least five years. Benjamin Olewine IV became a BirdLife Founder Patron in 2000 along with other members of his family. He played an active role in supporting the development of the Regional Council of the Americas (CRA), and has supported a number of BirdLife programmes and Partners in the Americas. He was elected to the BirdLife Council in 2004. Julie Gelfand is the President of Nature Canada. She has worked closely with other Partners and the Secretariat to secure financial support from Canadian sources for a wide range of BirdLife programmes, and has recently enabled BirdLife International to receive financial contributions through Nature Canada, raised mainly by the new Canadian Presidents of the Rare Bird Club, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson. Julie has served for the last eight years on the BirdLife International Council, and on the Executive Committee for the CRA.
“Yet again, the BirdLife International Awards demonstrate the breadth and depth of support for bird and biodiversity conservation both within and beyond the Birdlife Partnership” —Mike Rands, BirdLife’s Chief Executive
BirdLife International Partnership Awards are given to BirdLife Partners and Partners Designate which have made especially significant contributions to BirdLife's conservation objectives since the last World Conference. Among this years awardee's was the host of the 2008 World Conference, Aves Argentinas, which was recognised for its role in implementing the BirdLife Strategy and Americas Programme in Argentina and more widely within the Americas.
Another Partnership Award went to BirdLife's Paraguayan Partner. Guyra Paraguay promotes species, site and habitat conservation through the active participation and engagement of people at all levels, by founding IBA Local Conservation Groups, advising the government of Paraguay, and participating in the implementation and tracking of international environmental conventions.
Since the last World Conference, Malaysian Nature Society has implemented the BirdLife Partnership's Strategy in Malaysia through the identification and championing of Important Bird Areas and the establishment of IBA Local Conservation Groups, and has played an active role in international conventions relating to biodiversity conservation, wetlands and climate change.
In addition to implementing BirdLife's programme in Spain and more widely in Europe, SEO BirdLife has taken lead responsibility for the BirdLife Country Programme in Morocco, and supports a number of Partners in the Americas, including Aves Argentinas and Armonia in Bolivia.
“The success of some of the award-winning projects demonstrates the effectiveness of the BirdLife Partnership model, which enables partners to draw on one another's resources, expertise and experience” —Mike Rands
NatureKenya has been an energetic champion for IBAs in Kenya, focusing especially on threatened and previously neglected sites. They have a very active programme of IBA Local Conservation Group development and capacity building, and have also been pioneers in developing a national IBA monitoring system, working to institutionalize the monitoring process in key Government institutions. Nature Kenya is actively involved in the Convention on Biodiversity, and played a major role in shaping important new environmental legislation in Kenya – laws that, among other things, establish environmental safeguards and enable local communities’ involvement in forest management.
BirdLife's Conservation Achievement Awards are awarded to individuals or institutions, including governments, trusts, foundations and companies, that have made especially significant contributions towards delivering a specific conservation action for a priority species, site or habitat within BirdLife's Strategy. Emphasis is placed on conservation actions that are achieved with the support and involvement of local communities and the public, and that have ensured that a species, site or habitat is better conserved now than it was five years ago. There were five Conservation Achievement Awards at the 2008 World Conference:
The Götz family have played a major role in bird and environmental conservation in Argentina for over 30 years, supporting both Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina and Aves Argentinas in a wide variety of critical areas. Twenty-five years ago, they established 3,600 hectares of their own ranch, El Bagual, as a private nature reserve. El Bagual has become a model for effective conservation which is cited throughout the Americas. he Götz family have also played a key role in supporting various BirdLife regional initiatives, including the 2008 World Conservation Conference and Global Partnership Meeting.
The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust was formed in 1987 by local residents of the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand, to conserve the endangered Yellow-eyed Penguin, which was reduced to just 150 breeding pairs. Thanks to the activities of the Trust, including raising public awareness, restoring habitat, supporting predator controls and protecting four key sites totalling 340 hectares, there are now an estimated 482 breeding pairs. The Trust has established a model for community involvement in wildlife conservation that will be invaluable within New Zealand for conserving biodiversity outside formal Protected Areas, and can hopefully be used as an example for others beyond New Zealand's shores.
Jan Hora was a major force behind the transformation of the Czech Society for Ornithology into a BirdLife Partner. He pioneered the IBA Programme nationally, and helped change Czech legislation that resulted in many IBAs being designated as Special Protection Areas under the European Union Birds Directive. However, the most important contribution Hora has made to BirdLife is the idea of IBA Patron Groups (IBA Local Conservation Groups).
“The awards are also a tribute to the generosity of our Patrons, and their success in encouraging others to contribute to the funding on which so much of our work depends” —Mike Rands
Another Conservation Award goes to Lota Melamari, CEO of BirdLife's Tanzanian Partner, Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, in recognition of WCST's leading role in the Think Pink campaign to save the Lesser Flamingos of Lake Natron from a proposed soda ash extraction plant. In May this year Tata Chemicals withdrew its original proposal for the project, following the Tanzanian government's withdrawal of the Environment and Social Impact Assessment, which had been the subject of a detailed and effective critique by WCST. But a new ESIA is in preparation, and Tanzania's National Development Corporation seems determined to go ahead with the development. WCST'S current activities include commissioning a cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate that the soda ash development would be economic folly as well as an environmental disaster.
BirdLife's African partners like WCST were heartened by the success of NatureUganda in overcoming proposals to convert part of the Mabira forest IBA into a sugar plantation. In recognition of his tireless efforts, Achilles Byrahunga, CEO of NatureUganda, also received a BirdLife International Conservation award.
"Yet again, the BirdLife International Awards demonstrate the breadth and depth of support for bird and biodiversity conservation both within and beyond the Birdlife Partnership, and the effectiveness of the work that can be done by very determined people," said Mike Rands. "The success of some of the award-winning projects demonstrates the effectiveness of the BirdLife Partnership model, which enables partners to draw on one another's resources, expertise and experience. The awards are also a tribute to the generosity of our Patrons, and their success in encouraging others to contribute to the funding on which so much of our work depends."