El premio “Cuban conservationist receives 2014 “Green Oscar”
London (United Kingdom) – The Royal Princess presented the Whitley awards for this year. In the ceremony held at the London Royal Geographic Society, this important international award was received by Dr. Luis Roberto González Torres for leading his team in a plant conservation initiative to promote Cuban’s national pride for their unique flora and involving them in its preservation.
Dr. González Torres is among eight world conservation leaders receiving this award in 2014. This accolade from the Whitley Fund for Nature is also known as the Green Oscar for its international prestige. The Whitley Fund for Nature is a charitable organization based in the UK awarding local leaders from developing countries for their work preserving Nature. Since 1994, it has granted over 160 awards in 70 countries. Dr. González Torres, who is the Executive Director of Planta! PlantLife Conservation Society, is also the coordinator of the Conservation Section of the Cuban Society of Botany and one of Planta!”’s founders in Cuba.
Speech of Luis González-Torres in the 2014 Whitley Award Ceremony
Planta! – initiative for the conservation of the Cuban flora, was created in 2012 by young members of the Conservation Section of the Cuban Society of Botany (SOCUBOT). It aims for the long term preservation of the rich and unique Cuban flora and its sustainable use. The initiative includes a campaign promoting Cuban’s pride for their plants, increasing awareness about plant’s value and importance while encouraging people to take action in the preservation of plants and their habitats. Similarly, Planta! promotes local initiatives for the conservation and sustainable management of native plants and their habitats through a capacity building program. The program is addressed to activists and local technicians and offers training about ecology and conservation methods, environmental education, design and management of conservation projects, etc. The initiative encourages multidisciplinary team work and facilitates training and information for all participants.
“Concentrated not on a single species but on the flora of the entire Island […] Planta!’s project is an ambitious attempt to preserve Cuba’s rich plant diversity”
Sir David Attenborough
“Del Monte Soy”
Tony Ávila, Laritza Bacallao, Ivette Cepeda, Miriela Moreno & Grupo Frasis.
Among the winners of the 2014 Whitley Award is also Shivani Bhalla, working toward a peaceful coexistence between humans and lions in Kenya; Tess Gatan-Balbas, who leads the conservation of a rare species of crocodile in the Philippines; Mónica González, an Ecuadorian working for bird preservation in her country; Melvin Gumal, who protects the orangutans of Sarawak Island in Malaysia; Paula Kahumbu fighting to preserve elephants in Kenya; Fitry Pakiding, a conservationist protecting the turtles of the Pacific in Papua, Indonesia; and Stoychev, who works to protect the imperial eagle in the southeast of Bulgaria.
Previously, another two Cuban leaders of the environmental sciences received this award. One of them is Dra. Lourdes Mujica Valdés (2002 Whitley Award), who is an expert in bird ecology and works at the University of Havana (Biology Faculty). Dr. Jorge Angulo-Valdés (Whitley Award 2007), is the Director of the Center of Marine Research.
“The Whitley Award winners have been successful not just because they value and observe but because they also act. They are the conservation experts, not us, they know what must be done, and most importantly, how to do it”
Sir David Attenborough
Luis Torres, Cuba – Whitley Awards 2014
The Royal Princess also presented “The Whitley Gold Award”, received by Jean Wiener for his remarkable work preserving Haiti’s coastal ecosystems and securing its first marine protected areas.
Edward Whitley, founder of the award that bears his name, said: “they are passionate about the natural world and have managed to get the local communities involved to create a long term difference. The Whitley Award honors these conservation leaders for their remarkable results and celebrate their efforts to secure a better future for Humanity and Wild Life without distinction”.