Amazon’s champion Awarded WWF’s Duke of Edinburgh Medal

The 2008 WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation medal has been awarded to former Brazilian Environment Minister Her Excellency Senator Marina Silva.

Senator Silva, who was born into a rubber tapping family and became a noted advocate for the Amazon and its peoples alongside the late murdered campaigner Chico Mendes, served as the Brazilian Environment Minister from 2003 to May 2008.

“With this award we recognize Senator Silva’s lifelong commitment to the Amazon and, in particular, her extraordinary contributions to conservation of the Amazon as Minister of the Environment,” said James Leape, Director General of WWF International.

“As Minister, Senator Silva championed the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA), developed with WWF and other partners, which is the most ambitious forest conservation effort ever undertaken."

To date, ARPA has already secured protection of more than 79 million acres, and ultimately aims to protect 148 million acres. This system of protected areas will be more than 50 percent larger than the U.S. National Park system

“Senator Silva also led a comprehensive reform of Brazil’s forest laws, strengthened Brazil’s environment institutions and built up a framework of incentives and disincentives that contributed to a nearly 60 per cent drop in deforestation during her tenure in office.”

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, presented Senator Silva with the award in a ceremony in London’s St. James Palace.

“I don’t think we should envisage environment and development on opposite sides,” said Senator Silva in a recent interview with WWF-Brazil.  “I believe this century’s greatest challenge is to achieve protection with development and development with the protection of the natural resources.”

Previous recipients of the medal, since 1970 the most prestigious international conservation award, have included film maker Sir David Attenborough and outspoken NASA climate scientist James Hansen.

The medal is WWF’s premier award. At its inception in 1970 it was known as the WWF Gold Medal, but on Prince Philip’s retirement as WWF International’s president in 1996, it was renamed the Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal as a tribute to him.

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