- Miranda La Rose of the Stabroek News
won first prize in this year's Biodiversity Reporting Award at a ceremony held at the Hotel Tower, Main Street, Georgetown. Her article, "Iwokrama Canopy Walkway to Attract Tourists, Researchers" received the highest score among the 22 submissions presented by 11 journalists from Guyana.
La Rose's winning article takes an in-depth look at the 134-meter canopy walkway created in the Iwokrama Rain Forest, and its potential to draw ecotourism and researchers. La Rose has been participating in the Biodiversity Reporting Award since the first contest was convened in Guyana in 1999. In 2000 she also took the top prize.
Second place went to Nicola Waldron of Kaieteur News
for her story "Shell Beach - One of Guyana's Proposed Protected Areas" and third place went to Neil Marks of the Guyana Chronicle
for "Shanklands from Wild West to Paradise."
Three contestants received Honorable Mentions: Esther Elijah for "Turtle conservationists record success after switching game plan," which appeared in the Guyana Chronicle
; Sharon Lall for "Consultation or Confrontation?" published in the Guyana Review
; and Oscar Clarke for "Mangroves: Natural Defenders Against the Sea," published in Stabroek News
Organized by Conservation International (CI), along with the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the award seeks to promote high quality environmental journalism in biodiversity-rich countries, with an emphasis on greater and better coverage of conservation issues.
"This contest, in its fifth year in Guyana, has been generating incentives to engage journalists in the coverage of biodiversity," said Executive Director of Conservation International-Guyana, Major General (retd) Joe Singh. He concluded that, "As Guyana holds one of the most remarkable remaining wilderness areas of the world, reporting on the country's natural heritage is essential to increase people's awareness about its uniqueness and importance."
A panel of five distinguished international professionals, including one Guyanese, adjudicated the Award, whose First Prize winner gets an all-expense paid trip to New Orleans, Louisiana to attend the Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). She also receives a plaque and an ICFJ resource kit.
The Second and Third Prize winners receive cash awards of G$60,000 and G$30,000, respectively, as well as a plaque and the ICFJ resource kit.
Established in 1999, the Award was first launched in Guatemala and Guyana. In 2000 it was expanded to include Colombia, and in 2001 Bolivia, Brazil and Ghana entered the competition. Last year, the competition was held in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Guyana and Peru, and the said countries are staging the Award in 2003. Guyana is the only country that has participated every year since the Award was initiated.
The Biodiversity Reporting Award is made possible through the support of the Virgina W. Cabot Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Robert Dryfoos Charitable Trust.