Explorers

Picture of Pati Ruiz Corzo

Photograph by Becky Hale

Download the 2013 Latin American Nomination Form (PDF)

The National Geographic Society is currently soliciting nominations for the 2013 Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation. This award honors the unsung heroes of conservation by celebrating the recipient's past achievements and supporting ongoing work in conserving nature or culture in Latin America. The award includes a $25,000 grant.

In 2012 the award was given to Pati Ruiz Corzo (pictured), founder of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG), a local grassroots organization aimed at preserving the Sierra Gorda bioregion in Mexico from the destruction of unregulated development. GESG has set the standard in Mexico for a "conservation economy," establishing a new paradigm in natural protected area management with widespread local community participation. Thanks largely to GESG's efforts and Ruiz Corzo's leadership, the Sierra Gorda—comprising a third of Mexico's Queretaro State and considered the area with the most ecosystem diversity in Mexico—is now a UNESCO and federal biosphere reserve and is the largest federal protected area with participatory management in the world. It spans one million acres, and its 35,000 residents own 97 percent of its territory.

In 2011 the award was given to Moi Enomenga for his work to protect and defend the traditional culture and land of his Huarani Nation in the Ecuadorian Amazon's Yasuni National Park. Enomenga developed the Huaorani Ecolodge, a sustainable tourism project in his community of Quehueri'ono, as a means to strengthen traditional culture and generate employment; has worked tirelessly to establish the 55,000-hectare Yame Forest Reserve; and has demonstrated how conservation, support for local cultures, and ecotourism are critical to the preservation of the Amazonian forest.

In 2010 the award was given jointly to the husband-and-wife team Dr. Vitor Becker and Clemira Souza for their work in creating and managing a 5,000-acre protected reserve in Brazil's Atlantic Forest region. In addition to protecting unique and highly threatened habitats and species, the reserve supports field research by visiting scientists and innovative hands-on education programs for local schoolchildren.

The award was established in 2005 through a generous gift from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Buffett is a farmer, businessman, conservationist, and photographer. He serves on the NGS Council of Advisors and in 2007 was named Ambassador Against Hunger by the UN World Food Programme.

Recipients of the National Geographic Society/Buffett Award are chosen from nominations submitted to National Geographic. After nominations are screened by advisors and other experts in conservation, a selection of names is forwarded to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for review. The final selection is made by the National Geographic Society.

To submit a nomination, please complete a nomination form including a description of achievements that merit the award. Be sure to include details about the nominee's conservation successes in the face of unique challenges.

Please return the form no later than January 15, 2013, to Dr. Catherine Workman, conservationtrust@ngs.org.

The award will be presented at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., in summer 2013.

Thank you for participating and for contributing to the Society's efforts to recognize and celebrate leaders in Latin American conservation.

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