Species Survival Commission awards

Posted on by Alex Hudson


At the 2019 IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Leaders’ Meeting, members of the Global Tree Specialist Group (GTSG), the Global Tree Assessment (GTA) and Global Trees Campaign (GTC) network were recipients of four IUCN SSC awards. These awards are given to recognize the exemplary voluntary contribution of individuals and Specialist Groups towards the global work of IUCN.

Global Tree Specialist Group Citation of Excellence

The Global Tree Specialist Group won The SSC Chair’s Citation of Excellence, in recognition of the ‘outstanding contribution the GTSG has made in delivering the Species Strategic Plan between 2017 and 2018’. During this period, over 2,000 assessments for trees were added to the IUCN Red List as part of GTA. Also in this time, GTC has been upscaling, to now protect over 250 tree species from extinction in the wild. The award was accepted by GTSG co-chair Sara Oldfield who attended the meeting in Abu Dhabi, bringing great publicity to tree conservation, GTC and the progress of GTA to other SSC leaders. This award is shared by all GTSG members, without whom our conservation work would not be possible.

Global Tree Specialist Group Meeting March 2019 at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Global Tree Specialist Group Meeting March 2019 at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Conservation Leadership award

The Harry Messel Award for Conservation Leadership was received by Malin Rivers, Secretary of GTSG, for her contribution to the IUCN Red List over her career. In particular, it recognises her key role in coordinating the Global Tree Assessment, her development of partnerships towards the initiative and her significant contribution of tree assessments to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Malin leads the GTA team at BGCI, and under her management, the team have published many red list publications for trees to enable the prioritisation of many GTC project species. In particular, the production of these red list publications has led to the development of the GTC conservation consortia for Rhododendrons, Theaceae, Magnolia and Maples.
The success of GTA and GTC activities would not be possible without collaboration with other IUCN SSC specialist groups who hold exceptional knowledge on local floras and trees. Two specialist groups who we work in close collaboration with are also recipients of IUCN SSC Awards and we would like to congratulate them here.

Malin Rivers next to a butress root of a large Ceiba pentandra tree

Malin ‘saying hello’ to the buttress roots of Ceiba pentandra in Brazil

Conservation Merit award

Vololoniaina Jeannoda, leader of the Madagascar Plant Specialist Group, was awarded the Sir Peter Scott Award for Conservation Merit. This award recognised her extensive contribution to the conservation of Madagascar’s unique and diverse flora. Vololoniaina Jeannoda was pivotal to establishing the GTA Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund project, which will assess 2,000 endemic Malagasy tree species in collaboration with the University of Antananarivo, Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre (KMCC) and Missouri Botanical Garden Madagascar Program. This project will help to expand GTC action in Madagascar by identifying the species most at risk of extinction in the wild, and providing information on how best to prioritise their security.

Mascarene Islands Group’s Citation of Excellence

The IUCN SSC Mascarene Islands Plant Specialist Group (MIPSG) received The SSC Chair’s Citation of Excellence in recognition for their contribution to the IUCN SSC Species Strategic Plan 2017-2020. The group is a voluntary network of non-governmental, governmental and international plant scientists with expertise in Mascarene flora conservation. It cuts across institutional and geographical barriers for the good of conservation of threatened flora of the region.

The group is hosted by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, in Mauritius and Rodrigues, and the Reunion National Park, on Réunion Island, who work to conserve the plethora of endangered species on the islands, such as Mauritius’s loneliest palm (Hyophorbe amaricaulis). On receipt of the award co-chair Dr Vikash Tatayah says ‘This award is a success shared by all local and international institutions and individuals collaborating in a way or other for the conservation of plants of the Mascarenes. The award can only encourage us to go even further and higher in plant conservation’.

Co-chairs Dr Stéphane Baret (Reunion National Park for Réunion Island, left) and Dr Vikash Tatayah (Mauritian Wildlife Foundation for Mauritius and Rodrigues, right).

To receive these coveted prizes from IUCN is a real achievement for GTSG, MSPG and MISPSG. Progress and work towards GTA and GTC would not have been possible without the commitment of over 100 GTSG members, all putting in voluntary time to work on tree assessment, to contribute to practical projects and run training. We are grateful for the continued support of GTSG membership, SSC Specialist Groups and GTC partners and institutions.

Written by Alex Hudson

Alex is managing plant conservation projects in Africa (Malawi and Uganda) and the Indian oceans (Mauritius and Rodrigues). He is interested in ethnobotany and the interactions between conservation and development at the local level.

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