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2004 BP Conservation Programme winners pave the way for protecting wildlife

June 05, 2004

Twenty-nine young teams working on a range of globally threatened species and habitats from 23 countries across the world will be awarded a total of $600,000 this year by the BP Conservation Programme - the most awarded in the programme's 14-year history.

These future environmental leaders will be in the UK from 27th May until 17th June to share ideas and experiences with one another and to learn from a range of global conservation experts at a series of practical workshops. The annual awards aim to address global conservation priorities at a local level by assisting and encouraging student-led teams of young people who are undertaking important conservation projects globally.

The BP Conservation Programme is a partnership between BP, BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

In line with this year's World Environment Day theme, Wanted! Seas and Oceans: Dead or Alive?, several of this year's winning projects are focusing on marine issues, ranging from the conservation of critically endangered Dugong in Mozambique, to the protection of threatened and commercially important reef fish in the Abrolhos Bank of Brazil, to the conservation of endangered rare corals in the Marshall Islands.

Some teams will map their research areas, highlighting key areas for protection and restoration, while others will be working in regions already identified as highest priority ('critical') for conservation in order to protect some of the most highly endangered species on the planet.

From 27th May until 17th June, representatives from the 29 winning teams will attend three weeks of practical training workshops, run in collaboration with the Expedition Advisory Centre of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London and the Field Studies Council in Snowdonia, Wales.

Winners will learn about biological monitoring and surveying techniques, conservation education, people-oriented research, communications skills and more.

This training will assist them in carrying out their projects, and allow them the opportunity to meet and share ideas with each other and a wide range of world-class global conservation experts.

An event hosted by BP on the 16th June gives the BP Conservation Programme partnership the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of these young conservationists, who hold the potential to become the environmental leaders of the future.

Three top 'Consolidation' awards of $75,000 each are being given to the best continuing conservation projects that the Programme has helped to seed since its inception.

The first of these builds on a series of successful short-term bat conservation projects in Madagascar. The team aims to create an independent and self-sustaining national conservation organisation called Bat Conservation Madagascar. The work will include bat-plant interactions, cave conservation, species ecology and the role of bats in maintaining biodiversity.

The second Consolidation award goes to the 'Mpingo Project' in Tanzania. The East African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon), locally known as the Mpingo tree, is used to make clarinets and oboes in the West, and is the medium of choice for skilled local wood-carvers. Using the Mpingo as a flagship, the team will work with foresters to develop sustainable forestry under the management of local communities, and thereby conserve large areas of forest and woodlands in southern Tanzania.

The final $75,000 award is being given to a team working towards protecting threatened birds of Bolivia. The project's goal is to help in the conservation of all 29 of Bolivia's globally threatened bird species and the habitats in which they live.

Along with a range of research and specific conservation measures for these species and habitats, this project aims to develop a national Ornithology Conservation Centre that will provide the infrastructure support needed to develop this work into projects that will permanently conserve the species.

The programme is unique in its combination of scientific and corporate expertise in order to support biodiversity conservation practitioners at a global level. The unparalleled commitment over the last 14 years has meant that, in total, the initiative has now supported more than 250 projects in 74 countries, involving over 2500 participants globally.

Many other corporations are providing support to conservation, but no other cross-sectoral partnership has had such an impact over time in terms of developing future capacity.

The BP Conservation Programme is proud to say that through giving small amounts of money to young enthusiastic students, over 85% of those who are supported by the programme go on to work in the fields of conservation and development; and projects initiated by these students in an overwhelming number of cases continue and grow from this seed of support provided.

According to Marianne Dunn, Programme Manager: "The training and long-term mentoring support provided by this Programme builds the immediate capabilities of projects, but perhaps more significantly, builds the skills, enthusiasm and potential of individual team members. We aim to create a young global network of biodiversity conservation expertise, and my team are looking forward to assisting these teams to deliver major new findings to science and make a significant contribution to the priorities set by the international conservation community. "

The BP Conservation Programme is a partnership between BP, BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Conservation International

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