National Geographic World Legacy Awards - Winners & Finalists

2015 Winners and Finalists

WinnerEarth Changers

Recognizing cutting-edge leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon-emission reduction.

Orange County Resorts
And hotels

Orange County provides in-depth nature and cultural experiences for guests at its two resorts in Coorg and Kabini, located in high biodiversity areas of Karnataka, India. In collaboration with local communities and government municipalities, Orange County engages in sustainable development practices and education, including elimination of plastics, recycling of glass and metals, and alternative energy. Water conservation is promoted through the use of reverse osmosis plants, which provide safe drinking water and the elimination of 150,000 plastic bottles annually. In addition, wind power generation on site supplies the majority of electricity, with green teams closely monitoring all energy, water, and waste impacts through a three-tier environmental impact audit system. "Eco Walks" led by naturalists at each resort are designed to educate guests on sustainable tourism practices in action, while a series of education videos on local cultural and natural heritage reach more than 70,000 people through a social media campaign.

WinnerSense of Place

Recognizing excellence in enhancing sense of place and authenticity, including support for the protection of historical monuments, archaeological sites, cultural events, indigenous heritage and artistic traditions.

Cavallo Point

Following the transformation of Fort Baker from military outpost to national park in 2002, the owners of Cavallo Point Lodge worked in partnership with the local municipality of Sausalito, the National Park Service, and Golden Gate National Park Conservancy to transform the old military barracks into a thriving LEED Gold-certified sustainable tourism lodge, enhancing and restoring 17 historic buildings to their original design, including century-old vernacular architecture recognized for its importance by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. By reusing the former building materials, maintaining 100 percent of the exterior design, and 75 percent of the interior walls and floors, Cavallo Point preserved and protected the original barrack rooms. In addition, more than 50,000 native plants were grown from seed to support the ecological restoration of the Fort Baker watershed. The revival of Fort Baker through this successful public-private partnership has helped preserve the park as a historic landmark of San Francisco's heritage next to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

WinnerConserving the Natural World

Recognizing outstanding support for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.

Huilo Huilo Biological

Situated in the Andean Patagonian Rain Forest in Chile, the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, a private sector conservation and community development initiative serves to conserve the rich biodiversity endemic to the region. In the past ten years, Huilo Huilo has protected 247,000 acres of land once threatened by the timber industry, and transformed it through the implementation of scientific research, education, and conservation into a model of sustainable tourism. In particular, Huilo Huilo is working on an ongoing project to reintroduce the Huemel, a critically endangered species of Andean deer. Other ongoing wildlife conservation and research efforts include the reintroduction of Guanacos and the Darwin Frog Conservation Program. In addition to protecting some of the last remaining old growth rain forest in Patagonia from further development encroachment and timber cutting, Huilo Huilo has created a series of community festivals that celebrate nature and conservation as part of their local education outreach and awareness initiatives to save Patagonian nature. They were also instrumental in convincing Chile's national association of tourism (FEDETUR) to adopt a strategic campaign to "promote the enhancement of natural and cultural heritage through tourism."

WinnerEngaging Communities

Recognizing direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.

Tropic Journeys
In Nature

Tropic Journeys specializes in helping local communities establish ecotourism as a means to preserve their local culture and make a sustainable economic living. A pioneer in community-based tourism in Ecuador, Tropic Journeys started working 20 years ago in the remote Ecuadorean Amazon with the indigenous Huaorani people. Today, Huaorani Ecolodge is owned 100 percent by Huaorani community members who set their own wages and manage the day-to-day business jointly with Tropic Journeys, sharing the skills they have learned with other indigenous communities. Tropic Journeys is now continuing its successful community-based tourism model on Floreana Island in the Galápagos, demonstrating that ecotourism remains an important opportunity for helping to safeguard indigenous peoples' heritage, alleviating poverty, protecting rare and endangered species through local community-based conservation, and educating travelers on how tourism, when carefully planned and managed, can be an opportunity to protect cultural and natural heritage for future generations.

WinnerDestination Leadership

Recognizing destination leadership, including cities, provinces, states, countries and regions that are demonstrating environmental best practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local communities and educating travelers on the principles of sustainability.


Setting an example to combat global climate change with the goal to become the world's first country to operate fossil-fuel-free by 2020, Aruba has invested heavily in renewable energy, including the largest solar car park in the Caribbean with more than 14,000 solar panels and soon to double in size, and a waste-to-energy plant that turns trash into renewable power. An additional twenty percent of the island nation's electricity comes from wind power and Aruba's smart growth plan includes walkable communities, electric car stations, and the world's first trolley system using hydrogen fuel cell technology, also powered by the sun and wind. "We are a living laboratory of a sustainable society," says Prime Minister Mike Eman, who is also a member of the Carbon War Room to address climate change. Six other Caribbean nations have now adapted the "Aruba Model" to propel their own transitions towards becoming more sustainable destinations.

FinalistsEarth Changers

The Brando
French Polynesia

Located just off of the island of Tahiti on Tetiaroa atoll in French Polynesia, Pacific Beachcomber Resorts worked to bring to life the late actor and conservationist Marlon Brando's dream to create a luxury eco-resort that would also serve as a global scientific marine research center and a model for innovative green technologies. In collaboration with local conservation organizations, including te mana o te moana, The Brando is also working to protect Polynesian cultural and natural heritage for future generations. In order to minimize environmental impacts, The Brando has implemented sustainability strategies including deep ocean sea water air conditioning, solar power, a local coconut oil (biofuel) generator, and an advanced reed bed waste water treatment system, among other initiatives.

Nikoi Island

Located off the coast of Singapore in nearby Indonesia, Nikoi Island resort operates on less than one quarter of the energy consumption considered "excellent" by the sustainable standards of the International Tourism Partnership for hotels operating in the tropics, while utilizing solar power and maximizing sustainable design including natural ventilation. Their 15 rooms are constructed of reclaimed driftwood, bamboo, and local grass. Water conservation initiatives include collection of rainwater to reduce impact on groundwater resources. Waste reduction efforts involve producing many of its own food products and providing bottled water in reusable glass containers, while incorporating education for both guests and the community on environmentally friendly practices.

FinalistsSense of Place

Fogo Island Inn

Designed to celebrate the rural heritage of this remote island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, the creation of Fogo Island Inn included a collaborative partnership between local residents and a host of international artists, designers, and architects working together to capture the island's unique cultural heritage. The Inn works in close collaboration with the non-profit Shorefast Foundation to invest in the local community, ensuring an ongoing relationship between the Inn and local residents. During their stay, guests team up with "community hosts" who take them around the island to experience the local way of life, from participating in traditional sing-a-longs to learning about handcrafted boat building.

Gwaii Haanas National
Park Reserve

Gwaii Haanas, meaning "Islands of Beauty" in the indigenous Haida Language, is a partnership between the Haida people of British Colombia and Parks Canada to manage a national park reserve located on the southern end of the Haida Gwaii Archipelago. Initiatives include collaborating together with archeologists to inventory 500 indigenous settlement sites dating back 12,000 years, working with elders to record Haida place names and oral histories, and protecting other cultural traditions such as the carving of totem poles. A unique Watchmen program allows Haida residents to live at cultural sites and carry out traditional activities, while providing an enriching and authentic travel experience for visitors.

FinalistsConserving The Natural World

Africa and Asia

andBeyond is an experiential travel company focused on conservation and research efforts in the wildlife areas of Africa and India where its 33 lodges are located. In partnership with conservation organizations and other safari companies, andBeyond has successfully translocated White Rhinos from its Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa to the Okavango Delta in Botswana as part of the Rhinos Without Borders initiative, a program to help protect this critically endangered species. They have also played a pivotal role in protecting Zanzibar's coral reefs with their establishment of the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation area. The company mission is based upon the protection and restoration of threatened wilderness areas wherever they operate.

Conservation Ecology

The Conservation Ecology Centre, based in Cape Otway, Australia, is a non-profit organization working in partnership with the Great Ocean Ecolodge to further local conservation efforts through ongoing research and habitat restoration. Their projects include the creation of a wildlife corridor through the purchase and restoration of degraded land, and the planting of more than 80,000 trees as part of their Koala conservation program. An innovative research program utilizes trained dogs and community volunteers to collect field data critical to conservation efforts for the endangered Tiger Quoll, Australia's largest carnivorous marsupial species. The Conservation Ecology Centre also provides conservation-through-tourism educational programs to visitors and local community members.

FinalistsEngaging Communities

Feynan Ecolodge

Located in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Feynan has served as a model for sustainable development in the Middle East region by incorporating the local community as direct economic beneficiaries through responsible tourism, ensuring that their cultural heritage is preserved. All staff at Feynan are from rural Bedouin communities who have been trained in hospitality management, with ongoing training and capacity building providing opportunities to learn English and computer skills. Transportation is also provided entirely by local Bedouins, and 80% of the lodge supplies come from nearby communities to advance local economic benefits. The Feynan guest experience provides a unique opportunity to learn about authentic Bedouin culture and participate in local Bedouin traditions.

Mukul Resort

Situated on Nicaragua's Emerald Coast, Mukul worked closely with local villagers even before opening its doors to travelers in 2013 to provide ongoing education, training and capacity building to improve local livelihoods. In addition to providing training and employment for nearly 500 local residents at the resort, Mukul has also supported locally-owned business development, with the number of boutiques and restaurants in the nearby village of Gigante increasing from five to 30 in the past three years. Mukul is also partnering with NicaAgua, a not-for-profit organization that provides ceramic water filters to local households to reduce waterborne illness and provide clean drinking water for area residents.

FinalistsDestination Leadership

Delaware North Companies
(DNC) Parks & Resorts At Yosemite

The nearly century-old Delaware North Companies operate one of the largest concession projects in the U.S. National Park System in Yosemite. DNC provides visitors with lodging, food and beverage services, and a host of recreational activities such as backcountry skiing, horseback riding, rock climbing, and rafting, all while adhering to ecotourism practices. DNC's GreenPath program, an environmental management system, is designed to ensure sustainability through five key indicators, which include environmental management, interpretation/ education, facilities and asset management, and healthy food/healthy living. In addition, DNC at Yosemite has established an on-site "Green Team" dedicated to training staff on environmentally friendly operations and visitor education.

Val D'aran

Formed as a public-private partnership between the government and local Aranese businesses, Foment Torisme Val d'Aran is responsible for promoting sustainable tourism in this central Pyrenees Mountain region in Catalonia, Spain. A popular winter and summer vacation destination, Val d'Aran focuses on protecting its rich cultural and natural heritage by working with villagers to safeguard their local language, Aranese, which has been in decline, along with other important traditions. In addition to encouraging visitors to learn about the biodiversity conservation in the region, Val d'Aran works with wildlife researchers to protect indigenous species, including an ongoing European Brown Bear Recuperation Project and the reintroduction of the endangered Hazel Grouse.

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