Sunday, December 01, 2013

Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting!

Ferns in Oregon. Copyright © 2013 Wendee Nicole

I'm thrilled to announce that I was awarded the first Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting! You can read the announcement here: Prize exploring the next big idea in rainforest conservation announced

The prize sought proposals to explore the question of "What's the next big idea in tropical biodiversity conservation?". After a two-month application window and a month of deliberations, this week an independent panel of journalists, conservation practitioners, and tropical forest specialists selected environmental journalist Wendee Nicole as the first recipient of the Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting. 

Nicole's reporting will examine the wider topic of innovation in tropical biology conservation, with focus on polycentric governance in Uganda and Peru. Her work will center around the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom's theories of polycentric governance and decentralization: putting power in the hands of locals. Nicole will spend time in both countries, interviewing on-the-ground actors and looking at the struggle to combat poverty while preserving shared resources like forests and biodiversity. In the process, Nicole will produce a series of articles on what's working and what's not in the world of forest conservation.

The 6-month, $20,000 grant will allow me to travel to Uganda and Peru to report on projects that exemplify polycentric governance. Though that's a mouthful, it is a very important and exciting concept. Ever heard of the "tragedy of the commons" where people are thought to always act selfishly and therefore deplete a common patch of land, such as the classic example of livestock overgrazing? Ostrom reviewed myriad real-life scenarios as well as conducting her own behavioral research and found that sharing a commons does not always end a tragedy. Rather than taking power away from local people and putting it in the hands of a national government, she found that giving local people a say and allowing them to have an influence on rules related to managing a forest, grassland, a fishery, or public health will allow sustainable management of that common good. It's cool stuff, and as my last post on "Mini miracles in Chattanooga" mentioned, I felt like I knew a trip to Uganda to see mountain gorillas and report on the amazing work of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) was destined after I ran into Dr Gladys (CTPH founder) at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference.

Here's a link to my bio and project info on the Mongabay Special Reporting Initiative Fellows page. I can't tell you how thrilled I am that I will be traveling to Uganda to be face to face with mountain gorillas within a few months!! I have been rereading George Schaller's Year of the Gorilla and need to get another copy of Dian Fossey's Gorillas in the Mist because mine is falling apart.

I just returned from a week in Oregon, and will post some photos from my trip soon. First I still have a post from a visit I made to DC in October. I'm getting behind on my blog!


Jim O'Donnell said...

This is pretty darn impressive. Congratulations!

Unknown said...

Thanks Jim! :) I'm over the moon!