The Guardians of the Rainforest
Four remarkable personalities who have dedicated themselves to protecting the Amazon rainforest will be honored with the Frankfurt Conservation Awards 2021 on April 28th. They are all crucial FZS partners.
Julia Miranda Londoño, protector of parks
These experiences confirmed that Colombia's former park director of National Parks said, that the preservation of the forest is pivotal to the future of their country. A country, that has not really settled down five years after a peace agreement was signed and where environmentalists and nature conservationists live in danger. “The threat or actual kidnapping of park rangers who are in the field to stop illegal logging, wildlife trafficking or illegal raw material extraction is still happening,” says Julia Miranda. That is one of the reasons why she wants to continue: “As long as I have the health and energy to do it, I will work for nature, the local communities, nature conservation and the protected areas in Colombia. I will not devote myself to anything other than environmental protection.” A statement that makes it clear, why the Frankfurt Bruno H. Schubert Foundation honored this strong woman for her life's work. As director of the park authority, Julia Miranda was an important ally and highly valued partner for the FZS nature conservation program in Colombia. Julia Miranda as a private person will certainly remain so in the future.
Back home: Teófilo Torres Tuesta
Teófilo Torres played a decisive role in the fact that Yaguas became a national park. In September 2015 he was appointed head of the Yaguas Reserved Zone in order to resume the national park establishment process, which had been stalled at the time. He achieved this goal in January 2018: Yaguas became a national park and 8,700 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were placed under strict protection.
This was preceded by a majority vote from the neighboring indigenous communities. With one voice, they spoke out against the exploitation of their unique rainforests which was happening through illegal activities such as logging, gold mining, as well as cattle grazing and the cultivation of coca plants. They were aware that they would have to forego any use of the area, but even so. “It was the communities that pushed the creation of the park. With their well-organized federations, they played the decisive role,” states Teófilo Torres.
“Before Yaguas became a national park, illegal loggers and gold prospectors had invaded,” says the park manager who is now able to protect this natural treasure, the home of pink river dolphins, giant otters, woolly monkeys and jaguars, thanks to checkpoints and a small ranger group. Like himself, nine out of ten park rangers come from the region's indigenous communities.
On the banks of the Yaguas River, indigenous communities have put long-term benefits before short-term profit by working closely with the state conservation area authority SERNANP and NGOs such as FZS (Frankfurt Zoological Society) and IBC (Instituto del Bien Común). The Frankfurt Conservation Award for Teófilo Torres will hopefully help ensure that the example catches on elsewhere and that indigenous communities and nature conservation increasingly work together.
A strong team: Dr. Silvana Campello and George Georgiadis
In Cantão, Silvana Campello and George Georgiadis have invested in the creation of a private reserve in recent years, and they managed to convince other landowners to participate as well. In addition to the Cantão State Park, this reserve creates an important ecological corridor as a buffer in the natural transition zone between the rainforest and the savannah. For several years now, FZS has been supporting the Instituto Araguaia, an organization founded by the two scientists which is dedicated to research and nature conservation in the Cantão conservation area.