- Andrew Richards of the Stabroek News was given First Prize in this year's Biodiversity Reporting Award at a ceremony held in Le Meridien Pegasus in Georgetown. His article "Damage to Konawaruk River - Mines Commission moves to protect waterways" received the highest score among the 21 submissions presented by eight Guyanese journalists.
Richards' winning article takes a serious look at the severe environmental effects caused by more than half a century of gold mining in the Konawaruk River and seeks answers from authorities about the degradation. Richards has been participating in the Biodiversity Reporting Award since the first contest was convened in Guyana in 1999. That year he won third prize and he placed second in 2000 and 2001.
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.
Second place went to Sharon Lall of Kaieteur News for her story "From 'Concrete' City to Rich Nature Study" and third place went to Shirley Thomas of the Guyana Chronicle for "Good News for Iwokrama Rainforest Programme." A panel of five distinguished international professionals, including one Guyanese professional, adjudicated the Award.
"This contest, in its fourth year in Guyana, has been generating incentives to engage journalists in the coverage of biodiversity," said Haroldo Castro, CI's Vice-President for International Communications, and Executive Director of the Award. "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 awareness about its uniqueness and importance."
The First Prize winner gets an all-expense paid trip to Baltimore, USA, to attend the annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), scheduled from October 10-13, 2002. He also receives a plaque, a resource kit and a two-year membership to the IFEJ.
During the ceremony, the Second and Third Prize winners received cash awards of G$50,000 and G$25,000, respectively, as well as a plaque, two-year honorary membership to the IFEJ and a resource kit.
Honorable Mentions were also given to Linda Rutherford for her piece "Media Urged to Sensitise Public on Environmental Issues" published in the Guyana Chronicle and Stacey Davidson's piece called "Suriname Seminar Hears..." published in the same paper.
Executive Director of Conservation International-Guyana, Major General (retd) Joe Singh, concluded that: "The award serves to recognize the hard work of journalists who report on environmental issues, an area of global concern and national importance."
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. This year, the competition was held in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Guyana and Peru.
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.
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.