Father Balemans, a priest from The Netherlands has made Burkina Faso his home. He has devoted his life to spreading the message of sustainable development and more specifically to the struggle against desertification. Having founded the "Association pour le Development de la Region de Kaya", he has taught rural communities to care for and nurture their environment. From natural resource management to sound agricultural practices and rational breeding methods, scores of villagers have benefited from Father Balemans' guidance and have subsequently learned "to help themselves". Twenty-five villages have successfully implemented Father Balemans' scheme, which was recognized as a model of its kind by a Government Decree in September 1994.
The Bangkok Post
In 1992, the Bangkok Post held an Environmental Awareness Campaign, in which 21 of Thailand's leading advertising agencies were asked to come up with an eye-catching environmental message in the form of a full page advertisement, which the newspaper ran for several months free of charge. That same year, the Bangkok Post launched a tree planting project in Hyay Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, in which a percentage of every long-term subscription to the newspaper was given to the Rajapruck Foundation for the purchase of tree saplings. From September 1992 until the project ended in August 1993, the Post gave more than US$100,000 for the purchase of 35,000 saplings, which were planted in the buffer zone of the sanctuary.
The Bangkok Post's promotion of environmental awareness, however, dates back long before that. In 1981, when environmental problems in the minds of most readers were synonymous only with pollution, it started a "Nature Notebook" column covering environmental issues such as deforestation, desertification, hazardous wastes, population growth, disappearing flora and fauna, genetic diversity and pollution. The column was phased out in early 1993, but by then several Post reporters were regularly writing about the environment.
To date, their reports on environmental problems and in-depth coverage of environmental issues and concerns can be read on a regular basis, not only on the news pages, but in other sections of the paper such as Business, Outlook, Horizons and Perspective, making the Bangkok Post the leading newspaper dealing with the environment not only in Thailand but in the Southeast Asian region.
For its environmental awareness campaign, the Bangkok Post was awarded the first prize in community promotions at the Annual Marketing Newspaper Association Conference in Australia in 1993 and the Social Responsibility Marketing Award from the Ninth Thailand Marketing Awards later that same year.
Forty-six-year-old Marti Boada of Barcelona, Spain has been involved in environmental education initiatives for more than two decades.
He established Spain's first school of natural history, which he directed for 12 years, and has founded eight non-governmental organizations: the Committee for the Protection of the Mountains of Montseny; the League for the Defense of the Natural Heritage; the Group for the Study and Documentation of Montseny-Montnegre; the Group for the Defense of the Emporda Wetlands; the Catalan Society for Environmental Education; the Valles Centre for Studies of Mediterranean Ecosystems; the Group for the Defense of the River Ter; and the Catalan Society of the History of Science and Technology. He is a member of several other environmental institutions including the Institute of Andorran Studies Catalan where he heads the environmental section and the Institute of Natural History of which he is a committee member.
Boada's written work is extensive with more than 30 books concerning mankind and the environment, 22 textbooks for students and teachers and more than 150 articles. He has also produced posters, videos and exhibitions to raise environmental awareness.
Bernardo P. Ferraz
Dr. Ferraz's involvement in environmental issues stems from the time he was employed as physical planner at the Governor's Office in the State of Massachussets, U.S.A.
After returning to Mozambique, he worked in rural areas for several years spreading the concept of local community participation in the decision-making process. This was a challenging decision for Dr. Ferraz to make as Mozambique lacked qualified people such as himself and he could have chosen a comfortable town life.
After resigning from his appointment as Director of the State Marketing Board in 1982, Dr. Ferraz joined the National Institute for Physical Planning in order to raise environmental awareness in the country and eventually set up a Government Agency to take charge of environmental issues.
It is worth mentioning that Dr. Ferraz worked alone, teaching and mobilizing people interested in environmental issues from 1982 to 1986 when an environmental unit was at last established within the Institute of Physical Planning. His key strengths are awareness building, community empowerment and strong advocacy of sustainable development. According to some of his compatriots, "talking about environment in Mozambique means referring to Dr. Ferraz's achievements".
Robert John Filmer
Robert Filmer is an enthusiastic and dedicated nature conservationist who has made a considerable contribution towards making nature more accessible to other people. However, unlike most other conservationists, Robert is disabled. He is a diabetic with renal failure and has lost his eyesight. Losing his sight has made Robert acutely aware of the inaccessibility of the natural environment to handicapped people. He believes that facilities for the disabled or the blind to experience nature first-hand are essential in order to enrich their lives and to spread an awareness of nature conservation. Convinced that there is a dire need for a national strategy to research and disseminate information, he set about working towards this goal with everything within his power.
Robert organized and participated in two camps for blind people and he initiated a fully accessible 180-metre trail for the blind and handicapped. Furthermore, he has written articles about ecotourism for the disabled and has given various radio talks on the subject. He has also written a report on environmental education and the disabled.
Robert Filmer is a brave and resourceful young man who has not allowed his disability to stand in the way of his goals. While overcoming great physical disabilities, or perhaps because of them, Robert has put other people's education about the natural world at the forefront of his endeavours.
Janis and Bob Jones
In 1980, Janis and Bob Jones purchased a house at the Moeraki Lighthouse in New Zealand. Their home soon became a sea bird hospital where distressed and injured birds were nursed, cared for, fed and released. Over the past decade, hundreds of yellow-eyed and little blue penguins have passed through the lighthouse sanctuary. The couple's work has been most influential in exposing the predicament of the world's rarest penguin, the yellow-eyed. Janis and Bob have also planted out areas in coastal shrubs to provide nesting sites for the birds.
The couple face many uphill battles with different authorities and a nearby land owner. They have started a trapping programme for penguin predators although they realize that the penguins' worst enemy is man. Concurrently, Janis and Bob play an advocacy role, visiting schools and talking to community groups. Many clubs and individuals in the area have started raising funds for plants, fencing, food and drugs for the couple's project.
For Madhaviah Krishnan, 82, preservation of nature has always been an overriding passion. Since 1949, he has made his living variously as an artist, writer, naturalist, and nature photographer.
Madhaviah Krishnan's fortnightly nature column "Country Notebook", published in India's premier newspaper, The Statesman, is perhaps the longest running personal column in the history of the Indian Press. It has run without a break for the last 45 years. Through this column, Mr. Krishnan has tried to stimulate the interest of ordinary citizens in India's unique heritage of plant and animal life. He has tried to instill in the younger generation a love for nature while at the same time telling them that preservation is not the duty of the Government alone but is theirs too.
He was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1968 for an ecological survey of larger mammals in India. He has been a member of diverse Central and State Government Committees on Wildlife. He has published books on India's flora and fauna, including a survey of India's wildlife for the Bombay Natural History Society. He has also undertaken field surveys on wildlife for the Central Government.
Just five years ago, in the tiny region of Ormansag, Hungary, bordering Croatia, Tamas Lantos used his background in agricultural engineering and sociology and his love for the land to found the Ormansag Foundation. A non-governmental organization, the Foundation promotes sustainable development projects in the area involving local populations at all stages of planning and implementation.
Today, as the Foundation's President, Lantos leads six permanent staff and a team of volunteers in projects concerning organic farming, water resource protection and the preservation of the area's natural and cultural heritage. Through the Organic Agriculture Reference Programme, the Foundation operates a school farm and provides training and equipment to local farmers. This project helps local farms compete in the marketplace using conventional methods.
The Foundation is also introducing pollution prevention technologies and setting up a transborder nature park along the banks of the Drava River which will encompass 46 villages scattered between pastures and wetlands. To encourage the preservation of Ormansag's cultural heritage, Lantos has directed the Foundation in its work with the local Gypsy population to enlist their support in sustainable development. Projects have included courses in traditional Gypsy crafts and organic gardening as well as cultural exchanges with Gypsy populations living abroad.
In 1993 the Foundation was awarded the Hungarian Prize for Regional Action.
Ormansag Foundation, Arany Janos u. 4, 7967 Dravafok, Hungary; Tel./fax 011-36-73-352 333. Unpaid gardening work in orchard, herb garden, etc. at sustainable farm. Also coordinates volunteers for neighboring farms. Free accommodations. Minimum stay 1 week.
Anna and Livio Michelini
Ten years ago, Anna Conigliaro Michelini, a sociologist, and her husband, Livio Michelini, a physicist, visited Brazil's Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Minas Gerais as lecturers. The ties they made then inspired them - working with the non-governmental organization International Service Volunteers' Association - to launch the Environmental and Social Rehabilitation Programme for Informal Settlements (Favelas).
Under their leadership, Favelas involved the university, federal public agencies, state and local governments, and people living in impoverished human settlements (slums) in a project that raised living conditions in seven cities. It began in Belo Horizonte where citizens lived in sub-human conditions lacking proper health care, housing, sanitation, education, employment and human rights.
The situation highlighted environmental problems - deforestation, soil erosion, flooding increasing landslide risks, massive pollution from lack of sewer systems, potable water, and solid waste disposal services. To combat these problems, the Michelinis worked with Brazilians to develop appropriate sanitation technologies and land planning activities while working to change land tenure legislation. The introduction of urban services - water, sewage, electricity, roads, public transportation, telephones, schools, and health - followed. The project was duplicated in other cities.
In 1988, they won the II International Technology for Development Prize.
George Monbiot is an investigative journalist who has been researching, naming and exposing the perpetrators of environmental destruction and abuses of indigenous peoples' rights.
From 1985, he produced Britain's first investigative environmental programmes for the BBC Natural History Unit. His broadcasts (in particular those exposing the shipping agents who deliberately scuppered a bulk carrier off the Irish Coast, causing a local environmental catastrophe and reports tracing a chimpanzee smuggling network back to the head of customs in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire) precipitated major news stories. George Monbiot uncovered a tiger skin smuggling network operating between Indonesia and Singapore. He wrote "Poisoned Arrows", in which he thoroughly investigated the destruction of rainforest and wetland habitats and the dispossession of indigenous people in Irian Jaya (which with Papua once formed the island of New Guinea).
His erudite description of the various tribes and their beliefs was acclaimed by critics. He worked in the Brazilian Amazon and exposed the landlords expelling peasants. He also denounced the illegal trade in mahogany between Brazil and Britain tracing timber cut in indigenous reserves to the furniture restoration department of Buckingham Palace. As a consequence the Royal Family pledged in 1994 that it would only use tropical wood from sustainable sources.
With his book Amazon Watershed, which won the Sir Peter Kent Award for conservation writing, his report "Mahogany is Murder" and the documentary film "Your Furniture, Their Lives", he launched an international campaign against the illegal mahogany trade, now adopted by over 120 environmental groups, leading to a 55 per cent reduction of mahogany sales in Britain.
He also founded the Forest Network to coordinate the advocacy campaign. His commitment to the protection of the environment went as far as taking personal risks. More than once, George Monbiot was captured by gunmen and beaten up by security guards, left with facial injuries and broken bones. Monbiot is also the author of a book on East Africa's environment entitled No Man's Land.