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Marsh Award for Terrestrial Conservation Leadership

This Award is run in partnership with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and recognises an individual or organisation that is making a significant contribution to sustainable biodiversity at a local level.

The Award celebrates those who have been active in their communities, highlighting local leaders or organisations making a particularly special contribution to conservation through FFI’s organisational aims: securing the future of key threatened habitats and species; addressing root causes of biodiversity loss; assisting others in delivering conservational gains.

Nominations are put forward to Fauna and Flora International and judged in partnership with the MCT.

Pictured above: Group of African Elephants, Mozambique (accredited to Joe Heffernan FFI)

Pablo Melo Hoffmann 2018

Pablo is a conservation biologist who has devoted his adult life to ensuring the survival of Southern Brazil’s endangered tree species, having witnessed the loss of the Araucaria forest as a child.

In 2003 he, along with a group of friends, established a local NGO named Sociedade Chaua, turning his home into the headquarters and working around the clock as a volunteer in the early years to get it off the ground. He decided that Chaua should focus on the endangered trees of Southern Brazil as current restoration projects focused on a small number of more common species. Pablo is now the technical expert for tree restoration in his region, developing the knowledge on how to grow and plant more than 150 different tree species.

Pablo’s biggest legacy may be the wider change he is instilling in forest restoration. He has reached out to and developed partnerships with tree nurseries, other NGOs, and farmers and has successfully argued the case for them to use threatened trees in their restoration work. As of 2017, 11 other tree nurseries and 25 farmers were growing and planting threatened trees. Every year, Pablo trains hundreds of students, farmers and nursery managers in the techniques needed to grow, care for and plant threatened species, to ensure that everything he learns is shared and applied elsewhere.

Previous Winners

Dr Cahyo Rahmadi

Dr Cahyo Rahmadi is an internationally respected expert in the study of organisms that live in caves and has dedicated him work over the years to discovering many new species and protecting their habitats for local and scientific communities. He holds significant influence with the President of Indonesia as Advisor on Karst landscapes and their management in order to secure their future.

Dr Rahmadi has worked with FFI on a number of occasions, including in 2009/2010 when he joined the FFI field team working on the prison island of Nusa Kambangan on the south coast of Java, in order to assess the biodiversity in and around the cement quarry operated by Holcim Indonesia. This work resulted in the discovery of 40 species new to science, and a radically changed corporate view of biodiversity. He is committed to opening the world of cave biodiversity to as many people as possible and has initiated a blog, founded the Indonesia Speleological Society and conceiving and starting an Indonesian caves database.

Yufang Gao

Yufang Gao has worked tirelessly to unravel the China-bound ivory trade, through extensive fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and China. He has found that one of the leading obstacles in addressing the mounting crisis of ivory trafficking is that each party involved has a different view, but Gao has presented his findings to decision makers and the general public, and has been able to advise NGOs on conservation strategies.

Gao was selected by the Conservation Leadership Programme for an internship in 2008 and went to work for the Wildlife Conservation Society in China. In 2011, he was offered a fellowship by the Beijing Shansui Conservation Center to spend a year with the Nyanpo Yuzee Environmental Protection Association, a group of Tibetan monks dedicated to protect the fauna and flora in Nyanpo Yuzee. Here he observed how this renowned Tibetan grassroots NGO practices conservation and helped the Association set up community-based monitoring and conservation projects. He is now the Executive Director of the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Centre, an innovative public-private partnership to save the iconic snow leopard in Tibet.

Mirza Kusrini

Mirza Kusrini is an enthusiastic advocate for amphibian and reptile conservation in Indonesia. She set up the Herpetologist Society to initiate training in this area and served as its Chair for five years. The Society brings together scientists, professionals, agencies and amateurs working in this field.

Mirza has contributed hugely to educating children about conservation, leading projects such as wildlife camps, teacher training and school counselling. She also launched a frog conservation awareness programme amongst schoolchildren and the general public. Mirza is positive about the prospects of frog conservation in Indonesia and she is helping to inspire the next generation of amphibian researchers and conservationists.

Julie Hanta Razafimanahaka

Julie Hanta Razafimanahaka has worked tirelessly to support conservation in her homeland of Madagascar, rising from a volunteer researcher and student to Director of ‘Madagasikara Voakajy’, FFI’s Malagasy conservation partner. She is responsible for the organisation’s fundraising, financial management, science, community engagement and operations and it has gone from strength to strength under her leadership. She is an outstanding communicator and liaises with key senior stakeholders including community leaders, government officials, scientists and donors.

In 2007, Julie was recognised by the UK Government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as one of Madagascar’s most promising conservation scientists and received funding to study for her MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia. In 2011, Julie was offered a place on the Kinship Conservation Fellows programme where she worked further on the theme of Sustainable Trade of Game Species in Western Madagascar. She is an exceptional conservationist, whose positive attitude and tireless enthusiasm have been widely recognised amongst the conservation community

Richard Sambolahn

Richard Sambolahn has been working to protect Liberia’s forests and their biodiversity since 1973 and was key in supporting the development of sustainable practices within the forestry sector in the 1980s and 1990s. He set up Liberia’s first conservation NGO, the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia, of which he was elected Chair in 1988.

Richard has carried out extensive field work in Liberian communities, and in 1997 he set up ‘Farmers Associated to Conserve the Environment’ which has worked with local communities to adopt environmentally friendly livelihood practices. Richard is an exceptional communicator and has worked hard to determine that Liberia’s forests and their biodiversity are valued and respected by the very communities who rely on them for their livelihoods.

Radu Mot

Radu Mot has worked on forestry and wildlife issues in his native country of Romania since 1999, splitting his time between developing programmes for nature protection and working as a nature photographer. He has collaborated with a host of Romanian organisations, including the Romanian Forest Administration, the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme and National Geographic Romania.

Radu’s conservation work has had a significant impact throughout the country, including the hand he had in reintroducing the European Beaver to Romania for the first time since 1824 and in conflict mitigation between local communities and the large carnivores of Romania. In 2011 Radu set up Zarand  NGO, a  non-profit organisation which aims to preserve the conservation of one of the most pristine landscapes in Romania. Radu’s commitment to this ancient landscape is testament to his leadership in this field.

Anyaa Vohiri

Anyaa Vohiri left Hawaii in 2000 to return to her civil war-ridden homeland of Liberia to help put order in to its environmental and forest management. She worked with the National Environmental Commission of Liberia, where she was the primary author of two framework environmental laws: the Environmental Protection and Management Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency Act.

In 2001, Anyaa became the Country Director for FFI’s Liberia Programmes and set up an office that served as a safe haven for environmental managers, foresters, conservationists and researchers who could work on useful initiatives, improve their skills and lay the environmental groundwork for when things improved. As FFI Liberia has been able to mature, Anyaa has now left the programme but remains a constant advisor on all environmental matters and is now the Managing Director of the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency, which she laid the groundwork for.

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla is the Executive Director of the Ya’axché Conservation Trust in Belize, which is rapidly becoming a nationally recognised voice for conservation in Belize. The Trust has provided an extraordinary partner for FFI  and has used a combination of sustainable land use management, strategic advocacy and awareness, and supported socially innovative and economically viable enterprise to address immense conservation challenges while working with local communities.

In 2012, Lisel was appointed the new Cabinet Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, Sustainable Development and Indigenous People in Belize. She was approached for the role by the Government and endorsed by the Association of Protected Areas Management Organisations, an umbrella organisation for conservation groups. This will be a challenging role for Lisel, but one that will prove very positive for conservation policy in Belize.

Elena Bykove and Alexander Esipov

Elene Bykova and Alexander Esipov, of the Institute of Zoology in Uzbekistan, have been partners to FFI since 2003, providing invaluable experience and on-the-ground support to FFI’s Saiga Antelope conservation project. They have raised awareness and encouraged community engagement in Saiga conservation, developed policy and legislation and have incorporated the business sector in consrvation planning.

Elena and Alexander’s work is directly in line with the aims of FFI and they conducted a socio-economic baseline survey in their local area to better understand and subsequently address human needs. They have targeted villages involved with illegal poaching and have encouraged local people to join their ‘Saiga Friends Group’, which acts as an advocate for Saiga protection and wider biodiversity conservation in the area. They have also encouraged the formation of Community Ranger Groups, run by former poachers, which play an active role in monitoring the population of saigas and informing state ranger patrols.