Chico Mendes Prize 2021: early career practitioner winner announced

We’re excited to announce Alexandro Leverkus as the winner of the 2021 Chico Mendes Prize, celebrating the best Practice Insights article in the journal by an author at the start of their career.

Winner: Alexandro Leverkus

Research: Enabling conditions for the implementation and conservation outcomes of a private nature reserve

About the study

Public nature reserves are often the cornerstone of nature conservation but are usually limited in extent; restricted by private ownership of surrounding land with expansions met with increasing public opposition. Therefore expanding conservation efforts to privately owned land can play a key role in halting biodiversity loss and achieving global conservation targets. Such instances however are seldom reported and very little is known about the process of establishing a privately-owned conservation area.

In this Practice Insights, Alexandro Leverkus and colleagues share an inspiring case study of how a private land in central Spain became to establish itself as the Chico Mendes-Los Barranquillos private reserve. They detail the administrative and ecological hurdles that had to be overcome during the initial phases before outlining the ethical, biophysical, economic, social-cultural and governance factors that led to the successful reserve that is maintained to this day. The article not only highlights how conservation-orientated management of private lands can be achieved successfully, but share recommendations for government agencies to help foster private land conservation by reducing the bureaucratic barriers and providing technical and financial incentives.

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As surprised as the authors and journal Editors were by the serendipity of awarding the inaugural Chico Mendes prize to an article about the Chico Mendes-Los Barranquillos reserve, the Editors all agreed that Alex’s article embodies what the prize is about – celebrating the work of on-the-ground practitioners around the world. Editor-in-Chief Marc Cadotte highlighted how management interventions and policy instruments on public lands are frequently under the microscope of policymakers, researchers and environmental advocates, but case studies like this can not only demonstrate the potential of establishing private reserves, it showcases the benefits to both community and environment.

About the winner

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Alex coupled his love for nature and desire to help solve the environmental crisis by studying environmental science around the world, building up his experience studying in Melbourne, London and Granada, where he obtained his PhD in ecology. His main research area is in natural disturbances but, completely unrelated to his studies, was profoundly inspired to write this article after learning about the landowner’s commitment to protecting wildlife at his personal expense and ultimately obtaining an official protected area status to perpetuate conservation on the reserve.

Find the winning article: “Enabling conditions for the implementation and conservation outcomes of a private nature reserve”, as well as the shortlisted papers for the 2021 Chico Mendes Prize in this virtual issue.

Alexandro’s blog post about the study can also be found here.

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