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Field Museum's Parker/Gentry Award goes to Peruvian conservationists

Awardees help create huge park and Peru's first conservation concession

Field Museum

CHICAGO - The seventh annual Parker/Gentry Award goes to an outstanding team of Peruvian conservationists in recognition of their leadership in helping to preserve two remarkable Peruvian natural treasures: the Cordillera Azul and Los Amigos.

Their tireless efforts on behalf of these two regions culminated in

  • the protection of the last large, intact tract of lower montane forest in Peru through the creation of the Parque Nacional Cordillera Azul, and
  • the establishment of Peru's first conservation concession in the lower Los Amigos watershed of the densely forested Madre de Dios department.

The award recipients are:

  • Carlos Amat y León, professor at Universidad del Pacífico;
  • Lily Rodríguez, director, Cordillera Azul National Park Projects, Centro de Conservación, Investigación y Manejo de Áreas Naturales-Cordillera Azul;
  • Lucía Ruiz, general counsel, Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales;
  • Gustavo Suárez de Freitas, general director of protected areas, Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales; and
  • Enrique Toledo, forestry consultant.

"This team's commitment and dedication to protecting Peru's remarkable ecosystems and incredible biodiversity through innovative means exemplifies the spirit and objectives of The Field Museum's Parker/Gentry award," says Debbie Moskovits, director of The Field Museum's Environmental Conservation Programs.

Established in 1996 by an anonymous donor, the Parker/Gentry Award honors outstanding conservation biologists who have made a significant impact on preserving the world's natural heritage, and whose actions and approach can serve as a model to others. The Founders' Council of The Field Museum presents the award, this year at a reception Sept. 5.

Cordillera Azul
On May 22, 2001, Peru's president, Valentín Paniagua, decreed a 5,225-square-mile national park, thereby protecting a pristine area of Andean rainforest bigger than Connecticut and extraordinarily rich in biodiversity. The new Parque Nacional Cordillera Azul - one of the largest parks in the world - is still undeveloped and largely uninhabited.

The year before, biologists from The Field Museum partnered with Peruvian and international biologists to study the area and inventory its biodiversity. What they found was truly spectacular, including at least 28 new plant and animal species. Our team of awardees played instrumental roles in securing protection for this park by bringing it to the attention of the international conservation community, organizing and participating in the biological inventory, and deftly navigating administrative and legal requirements.

Los Amigos
On July 24, 2001, president Paniagua signed another decree, this time creating Peru's first conservation concession. The lower Los Amigos watershed is recognized as a center for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity. The conservation concession was awarded to the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica and will allow for the development of a center of expertise in tropical forest management, biodiversity science and training.

A conservation concession is contract between the government and a nongovernmental organization that confers management responsibility for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation to the NGO. The awardees made this new mechanism for protecting biological resources possible, particularly by helping to create the Peruvian Forestry Law that allows for conservation concessions.

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For more information about the award, this years winners and past winners, visit www.fieldmuseum.org/parkergentry/.

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