� As part of its on-going commitment to the environment, BP is proud to announce its continued support for the 2006 BP Conservation Programme Awards. This year, the programme awarded 27 winning teams from 21 different countries with support totalling $475,000.
The awards, which support the vital work of a new rising generation of conservation professionals, will help drive practical research projects addressing a wide range of global environmental issues from surveying chameleons in Madagascar and conserving sharks in Brazil, to studying rare frogs in Tobago and working with local communities to protect birds in the Philippines.
This year, 19 teams were awarded "Future Conservationist Awards" and eight awards were granted to teams to continue and further their projects that previously were awarded funding from the BP Conservation Programme. Three teams received �Conservation Leadership Awards� and five teams received �Conservation Follow-up Awards.� The annual awards aim to develop leadership potential in a new generation of conservation professionals and address global conservation priorities at a local level by assisting and encouraging teams of young people to undertake important conservation projects globally.
�We aim to create a young global network of biodiversity conservation expertise and the training and long-term mentoring support provided by this programme builds the immediate capabilities of projects,� said Marianne Carter, programme manager for the BP Conservation Programme. "But perhaps more significantly, this programme builds the skills, enthusiasm and potential of individual team members since these young and talented individuals hold the potential to become environmental leaders of the future."
In addition, from May 26 to June 7 representatives from the 19 Future Conservationist Award winning teams will come together to attend two weeks of practical training workshops in Snowdonia, Wales. Winners will learn a variety of skills, including conservation education, communications, people-oriented research and project planning and management skills. This training will assist them in carrying out their projects and allow them the opportunity to meet and share ideas with one another and several global conservation experts.
Representatives from each of the eight Conservation Follow-up and Conservation Leadership Award winning projects will attend the Society for Conservation Biology�s 20th Annual Meeting, �Conservation Without Borders,� in San Jose, California from June 24 to 28, 2006. Each award winning team will present their initial research findings to an international audience of more than 1,500 conservation practitioners. The Society for Conservation Biology is the premier society for conservation biologists, bringing together experts from around the world. A primary objective of the 2006 meeting is to transcend real and perceived boundaries of ecology, sociology, politics and human behaviour that impede conservation science and its application.
Conservation Leadership awards, totalling $133,000, have been awarded this year to some outstanding advanced projects and developing organisations that the programme has helped to fund. The first of these builds on several years� work conserving biological diversity in one of the few remaining remnants of Atlantic Forest of Argentina. The team aims to consolidate the corridor, threatened by deforestation and agricultural development, between Urugua-� and Foerster parks by implementing a new co-managed reserve and supporting community initiatives, such as education, agroecology and restoration as well as conducting biodiversity surveys and monitoring.
A project conserving the critically endangered Blue-billed Curassow in Colombia also received a Conservation Leadership Award. In 2004, local conservation organisation ProAves launched a conservation initiative to identify possibly the last viable population of Blue-billed Curassow in Serran�a de las Quinchas. They produced a five-year Action Plan and purchased 1,200 hectares to establish the El Paujil Nature Reserve. Now, with BP support, the group plans to create a buffer zone around the reserve to protect the forest. This will be accomplished with community reserves, sustainable community development and awareness initiatives.
The third and final award is supporting sustainable bat conservation across four countries in the Caucasus Mountains, including Romania, Georgia, Poland and Armenia. The extremely various landscapes in the Caucasus provide myriad habitats for bats. Working together across the region, the project team aims to maintain population levels of cave dwelling bats throughout the Caucasus Mountains.
Over its 16-year history, the programme has supported nearly 3,000 individuals, many of whom have continued working in the fields of conservation and development. In an overwhelming number of cases, projects initiated by these individuals continue and grow from the programme�s initial support.
The BP Conservation Programme is a partnership between BP, BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society. For more information about year�s winning projects, visit conservation.bp.com