Latest Conservation Leadership Awards helping marine conservation to turn the tide

Historically, marine conservation tended to be the poor relation when it came to dividing up the funding spoils, with terrestrial projects receiving the lion’s share. That situation is changing, however, as the world wakes up to the long-term consequences of marine pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification, unfettered coastal development and habitat destruction.

It is now five years since a major grant from Arcadia enabled Fauna & Flora International (FFI) to redouble its efforts to redress the balance with the launch of an ambitious marine programme.

In 2016, CLP has also benefited from Arcadia funding, in the form of support for two Future Conservationist Awards ring-fenced for teams engaged in marine conservation.

First survey of mesophotic coral ecosystems.

One award-winning team will survey mesophotic coral ecosystems. Credit: Dominic Andradi-Brown.

Mexican waves

One of these award-winning teams will conduct the first surveys of mesophotic coral ecosystems in a crucial Mexican section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. For team leader Erika Gress, news of the award came as a welcome fillip after a tough day at the ‘office’: “I was actually planning an ecology lesson for secondary kids in one of the villages in the Xian Ka’an Biosphere in Quintana Roo, Mexico. After a very long day and with a bad headache, I decided to have a break hoping for some inspiration and opened my e-mail. It just put a massive smile on my face.”

The other Arcadia-funded team will monitor and contribute to conservation strategies for the elusive and increasingly threatened dugong in Quirimbas National Park, a remote haven of biodiversity in northern Mozambique.

Another team will monitor dugongs in Quirimbas National Park. Credit: Lodovico Magistretti/Muindi Semi di Sorriso Onlus.

Another team will monitor dugongs in Quirimbas National Park. Credit: Lodovico Magistretti/Muindi Semi di Sorriso Onlus.

Humpbacks of Langkawi

Other marine projects also feature prominently among the 2016 list of award-winning proposals. Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are under severe pressure from tourism and other human-related impacts in Malaysia’s popular, busy and heavily overfished Langkawi Archipelago. By studying the dolphins’ adaptive behaviour in this context, one team hopes to contribute to the development of appropriate long-term conservation strategies for these poorly known cetaceans.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, it was a case of ‘third time lucky’ for Ida Ansharyani and her team, whose persistence paid off when they finally received one of CLP’s coveted Follow-Up Awards, enabling them to continue their vital work in promoting sustainable fishing in Sumbawa, Indonesia: “We are so happy to get the CLP award (we have been shortlisted three times since our first CLP project in 2011, and we would not stop applying!) We are now ready to raise our initiative to a new level.”

Studying the behaviour of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Credit: Langkawi Dolphin Research/MareCet.

Studying the behaviour of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Credit: Langkawi Dolphin Research/MareCet.

Funding worth a total of US $262,650 has been granted this year in the shape of 15 Future Conservationist Awards, two Conservation Follow-Up Awards and one Conservation Leadership Award. Other award-winning teams will be focusing on species as diverse as obscure endemic frogs from Mexico, charismatic big cats in China, migratory raptors in Georgia, and the little-known wildlife of two recently designated national parks in Angola.

FFI’s Stuart Paterson, Executive Manager of CLP, is well aware of the transformative power of these awards: “For many of our grantees, winning a CLP award marks an important milestone in developing a successful career in conservation. Beyond the project funding, award winners will benefit from training and access to a large network of CLP alumni and partner staff, enabling them to pool resources and share skills and knowledge, which in turn will increase their effectiveness in achieving their goals.”

The 'third time lucky' Sumbawa team. Credit: Guslan Gumilang.

The ‘third time lucky’ Sumbawa team. Credit: Guslan Gumilang.

About the awards

The Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) Team Awards are divided into three categories:

Future Conservationist Awards – 15 awards of up to US $12,500 each

Conservation Follow-up Awards – two awards of up to US $20,000 each (available only to previous CLP Future Conservationist Award winners)

Conservation Leadership Award – one award of up to US $40,000 (available to teams who have reported on their Follow-up Award project)

To learn more about these and other 2016 winners, and read the latest news from the programme, visit the CLP website.

You can also follow CLP on Facebook and Twitter.

Main photo credit: Langkawi Dolphin Research/MareCet