The juries of the BBVA Foundation Awards for Biodiversity Conservation have announced their respective decisions in this third edition of the scheme. The Award for Scientific Research in Ecology and Conservation Biology, comprising 500,000 euros, has been granted ex aequo to leading scientists Harold Mooney and Peter Raven.
The Award for Biodiversity Conservation projects in Latin America, with prize money of 250,000 euros, goes to Mexican organization Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda.
The BBVA Foundation Award for Knowledge Dissemination and Communication in Biodiversity Conservation, with a prize of 80,000 euros, goes to the environmental journalist Benigno Varillas.
The BBVA Foundation Awards for Biodiversity Conservation, whose global prize money of over one million euros is the highest of its kind internationally, seek to recognize and support the work of the scientific community, organizations and professionals devoting their energies to the central challenge of the 21st century that is biodiversity conservation. These Awards exemplify the BBVA Foundation's commitment to the goals of sustainable development and an improved quality of life for all citizens.
THE BBVA FOUNDATION AWARD FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION BIOLOGY
The international jury of the BBVA Foundation Award for Scientific Research in Ecology and Conservation Biology have granted the award destined for the contributions of scientists in any country that have significantly advanced the boundaries of knowledge in this field to Harold Mooney (Paul S. Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology at Stanford University) and Peter H. Raven (Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden) "in recognition of their outstanding contributions to understanding the evolutionary and co-evolutionary processes that shape the adaptations of plants, the communities they form, and the diversity and biogeography of those communities, and how plants contribute to ecosystem function. Both lead the world in their understanding of, and raising concerns about, the loss of plant diversity through habitat destruction and invasive species, and in seeking ways to prevent biodiversity loss".
The contributions of these two eminent scientists have been vital to the shift in perspective that has taken place in conservation biology research, away from a species-centered approach to one based on ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity.
The jury also singled out their joint contribution to improving knowledge and awareness regarding loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction and the action of invasive species, along with their invaluable work in the search for strategies to halt this loss.
Harold Mooney is considered the leading voice in the biology of global change. His work has been instrumental in incorporating biology into the study of global environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity loss and the action of invasive species. From his involvement in the International Biological Program in 1970 to his position as co-chair of the scientific panel of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment - a program bringing together 1,300 scientists from 95 countries to appraise the current state of planetary ecosystems - Mooney has championed the idea that biodiversity is a key piece in ecosystem function.
Peter Raven is an eminent plant taxonomist and evolutionary biologist. Director of the Missouri Botanic Garden, one of the world's leading centers for botany research and training, Professor Raven is the author of key contributions in the biological sciences field; among them the co-evolution concept which he formulated on the basis of his studies into butterflies and the plants they feed on.
Harold Mooney is currently the president of Diversitas while Peter Raven serves on its Advisory Board. Diversitas is an international program set up by intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations like UNESCO that brings together scientists from all over the world to promote scientific research on biodiversity. Its goal is to generate accurate scientific information and predictive models of the status of biodiversity, and to find ways to support a more sustainable use of the Earth's resources.
Professors Harold Mooney and Peter Raven have each published over 400 scientific papers. Mooney's publications include 35 books edited or co-edited, and some twenty articles in Science and Nature. In addition, his research has been cited in over 12,000 scientific papers since 1988, earning him a place in the ISI's prestigious list of Highly Cited Researchers in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Peter Raven has authored over 450 articles in scientific journals and is editor or co-editor of 18 books, some of which have become basic text books in plant biology and environmental science. Raven has been cited in scientific papers on more than 5,000 occasions.
The jury in the Award for Scientific Research in Ecology and Conservation Biology was chaired by Carlos Duarte (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, CSIC-University of the Balearic Islands) with members William C. Dennison (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, USA), Helena Freitas (University of Coimbra, Portugal), Carlos Pedrós-Alió (Institute of Marine Sciences, CSIC), Stuart L. Pimm. (Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, USA and Iván Valiela (The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, USA).
BBVA FOUNDATION AWARD FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PROJECTS IN LATIN AMERICA
The jury of the BBVA Foundation Award for Biodiversity Conservation Projects granted this prize to honor the work carried out by non-profit organizations to the Management Program of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, led by Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, "for demonstrating that biodiversity conservation generates wealth and well-being for the community". This original, innovative project, they underscored, has secured the achievement of important environmental goals in parallel with an improvement in living conditions in the zone.
In 1999, the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda set in train a co-management model involving shared responsibilities between the Mexican Government and civil society for the management of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve; the protected space with the richest ecological diversity in all of Mexico with a total extension of 383,567 hectares. Sierra Gorda harbors 15 types and subtypes of vegetation, as well as over 1,800 vascular plant species, 124 fungi species and 550 vertebrates, including protected species like the jaguar, black bear, Humboldt butterfly and military macaw.
The jury of the Award for Biodiversity Conservation Projects was chaired by Sergio Guevara (Instituto de Ecología, Mexico) with members Josep-María Gili (Institute of Marine Sciences, CSIC), José Vicente de Lucio (University of Alcalá), Nuria Marbà (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, CSIC-University of the Balearic Islands), Carlos Montes (Autonomous University of Madrid) and Antonio Vercher (Supreme Court Coordinating Prosecutor for the Environment and Urban Development). The Award for Biodiversity Projects in Spain was on this occasion declared vacant.
BBVA FOUNDATION AWARD FOR KNOWLEDGE DISSEMINATION AND COMMUNICATION IN BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
The BBVA Foundation Award for knowledge dissemination and communication of the importance of conserving the planet's biodiversity went to environmental journalist Benigno Varillas.
The award was granted to him "for the quality of his long and pioneering professional career in the environmental communication field". The jury also underscored that Benigno Varillas has created a new school in the communication of ecological and nature conservation values in Spain.
The jury of the BBVA Foundation Award for Knowledge Dissemination and Communication in Biodiversity Conservation was chaired by Miguel Delibes de Castro (Doñana Biological Station, CSIC) with members Alberto Aguirre de Cárcer (ABC newspaper), Gustavo Catalán (El Mundo newspaper), Montserrat Gomendio (National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC), Begoña Peco (Autonomous University of Madrid) and Malén Ruiz de Elvira (El País newspaper).