After a year of holding the Carlos Ponce del Prado Award ceremony virtually, this year conservationists and allies met again in person to celebrate the XIII edition of this award that recognizes environmental leaders and park rangers who actively work in favor of Peru’s biological diversity. This year 94 nominations were received, making this recognition the most important in the environmental sector in Peru in terms of trajectory and positioning.
Inspired by the legacy of engineer Carlos Ponce del Prado and his dedication to the conservation of natural areas and their biodiversity, this 2021 award recognized six individuals in five categories. In this edition, the winners were Manuel Plenge in the category of Environmental Personality, Tatiana Espinosa Quiñones as Conservation Artificer, Favio Chávez Villafuerte as Distinguished Park Ranger, Melissa Rivera Cornejo as Outstanding Park Ranger, and Adriana González Pestana and Luis Castillo Roque as Outstanding Young Conservationists.
As in previous editions, this year the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA in spanish) awarded four scholarships to Jasmin Scholl, Carlos Soncco, Susana Cárdenas, and another to Henry Villegas, through Conservamos por Naturaleza. The first three seek to promote research on the interaction and management of fishing activities in Natural Protected Areas in the marine environment, and the last one aims to promote and support voluntary conservation initiatives throughout Peru. In addition, the Peruvian Association for the Conservation of Nature (APECO in spanish) awarded two scholarships to Robin Fernández and Sandra Márquez for research on a prioritized Peruvian flora or fauna species.
Our heirs to nature this year are
Manuel Plenge Espinosa is the main national reference in specialized literature on Peruvian ornithology and the most important scientific authority on the occurrence or non-occurrence of bird species in the country. Since he was very young he had a deep love and passion for Peruvian birds, which led him to systematize the bibliography on birds and to elaborate and maintain the list of species and subspecies of Peruvian birds. Among his most valuable works is Bibliografía de las Aves del Perú, a sample of his hard work, perseverance and dedication; and Lista de Aves del Perú, whose last version was published in 2012 and which Manuel zealously keeps updated.
Tatiana Espinosa Quiñones is a biologist and leader of the organization ARBIO, with which she carries out conservation actions in a 916-hectare forest concession in Madre de Dios. Since 2010, she has been managing this area and defending the forest, as well as conducting research on fauna and large Amazonian trees. She created an innovative system of online conservation of hectares for the microfinancing of her project since 2011. From ARBIO, Tatiana articulates with ecosystem restoration networks such as IAFN and is part of the Association of Concessionaires of Madre de Dios, the Amazonía que late network, the Association of Park Rangers of Peru and the International Ranger Federation.
Distinguished Park Ranger
Favio Chávez Villafuerte, a native of Cusco, has worked for the welfare of his region for more than three decades. Committed to the conservation of natural and cultural resources, in his early years he was involved in monitoring and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in the Manu National Park. He then joined the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary where he actively participates in the training of new park rangers, and the mitigation and prevention of threats and impacts such as forest fires. Favio is a born leader and is also a teacher by vocation, as he has always shared his knowledge and spread the importance of conservation.
Outstanding Park Ranger
Melissa Rivera Cornejo has been an official park ranger for the Purús Communal Reserve since 2010. This PNA is co-managed by the Peruvian government and an indigenous administrator representing 26 native communities from 8 indigenous peoples. During the more than ten years that Melissa has been a park ranger in this reserve, she has demonstrated great empathy and ability to establish bonds of trust with the indigenous peoples of the Purús. Her efforts have been rewarded with the involvement of nine indigenous women in the vigilance committees, who, like the rest of the volunteer community guards, have been recognized by the Chief of the Purús Communal Reserve.
Outstanding Young Professional
Adriana González Pestana is a marine biologist and one of the main promoters of the study of sharks and rays in Peru. Her research has marked a before and after in the identification of individual shark conservation issues. In addition, Adriana has contributed to the recognition of the role that sharks play in the marine ecosystem of our country and the great gaps for their sustainable management. Also, in 2017, Adriana founded the first and only group of volunteer researchers seeking to obtain and share information about stingrays in Peru: the research group Misión Raya. She also has a vocation as a teacher and a great commitment to the education of children in this country.
Luis Castillo Chávez is a biologist and co-founding member and current general coordinator of the NGO GRUPO RANA, where he prepares diagnoses and develops eventual meetings for its members, allied youth organizations, volunteers and the general public based on the lessons learned about the execution of the organization and projects. Luis’ leadership allowed him not only to disseminate the experiences, research and plans of the RANA group nationally, but also internationally, reaching the United Kingdom, United States, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, as well as participating in international virtual events that allowed him to bring the vision of the RANA Group and the youth managers of biodiversity conservation to different spaces.
About Carlos Ponce
Carlos Federico Ponce del Prado was one of the best known and most beloved figures in the recent history of nature conservation. During his life, Ponce was a member of countless institutions to which he always contributed his words of encouragement and stimulus as well as his knowledge and great diplomatic skills. In 1983 he founded the Peruvian Foundation for the Conservation of Nature (ProNaturaleza) of which he was the second president and several times vice-president. In 1986 he was invited by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to work in Washington, DC as Director of the Peru Program. His stay in that city coincided with the internal division of TNC International that led to the creation of Conservation International (CI), for which he began working in 1987, initially in Washington and later in Lima, as regional vice-president for the tropical Andean countries. He retired from CI in 2006. Since then he assumed a consultancy role for the Wildlife Conservation Society..
The Carlos Ponce del Prado Award was created in 2009 with the purpose of honoring his legacy. It is promoted by Profonanpe, Conservation International, Andes Amazon Fund, WCS, the Ministry of Environment and Sernanp.
Learn more about the award at www.premiocarlosponce.pe