Overbrook Conservation Fellows

The Overbrook Conservation Fellows Program, initiated in 2003, is aimed at supporting long-lasting contributions to sustaining the environment and biodiversity in Latin America. “There is often a shortage of great conservationists in the places where they are most needed, and there is rarely if ever outside support for these key leaders,” said Stephen A. Foster, president and CEO of the Overbrook Foundation. The Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability manages the program on behalf of the foundation because of its experience in supporting local conservation champions and its ongoing projects and relationships with the Latin American conservation community.

Potential fellows are identified by a nominating panel of conservationists and scientists with a deep knowledge of the ecological issues facing the region; a selection committee makes the final decisions. According to Herb Raffaele, chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a selection committee member, “This initiative gets at the heart of what conservation is all about: investing in dynamic individuals who care about the environment and dedicate their lives towards making a difference.” Enrique Ortiz, a senior program officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, also on the committee, said, “We can see now the results of the fellowships, with several awardees making a change in their countries. They have become more empowered individuals and activists for environmental causes.”

Other members of the selection committee include: John Robinson, senior vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Shahid Naeem, chair of Columbia’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology; Herbert Bedolfe, executive director of the Marisla Foundation; Margaret Cushing, senior program officer at the Tinker Foundation; Carlos Saavedra, director of the Summit Foundation; and Daniel Katz of the Overbrook Foundation’s environment program.

Since its inception, the program has supported more than 40 fellows working in 13 nations of Central and South America.

The 2010/11 Overbrook Conservation Fellows are:

- German Andrade (Colombia): Ecosystem Approach for Wetland Management in Colombia

- Liliana Ayala (Peru): Interactions Between Marine Wildlife and the Industrial Anchovy Fishing Fleet

- Ernesto Bolado-SuMar (Mexico): Communicating Climate Change in the Gulf of California

- Elizabeth Cabrera (Paraguay): Implementation of Productive Landscapes in the San Rafael Buffer Zone

- Fanny Cornejo (Peru): Research and Conservation Efforts for Peruvian Primates

- Alessandra Nava (Brazil): Effects of Forest Fragmentation on Population Ecology and Disease of Ungulate Populations of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

The 2009/10 Overbrook Conservation Fellows included:

- Regina Castaňda Sanchez (Guatemala): Collection and analysis of information on the interactions between fisheries and marine turtles

- Erio Curto (Argentina): Regional education, outreach and management with mayors and municipal officials of the watershed reserve around Mar Chiquita Ramsar

- Laura Navarro Noriega (México): Research and writing on the perception of bats in pre-Hispanic culture

- Julio Reyes (Perú): Establishing conservation and science resources including books, websites and teaching pamphlets about small Peruvian cetaceans

- Luis Rivera (Argentina): The ecology and conservation of the Alder Amazon parrot in neotropical cloud forests, and its implications for forest management

- Armando Valdes-Velasquez (Perú): Strengthening conservation initiatives in the Madre de Dios watershed