Co-founded the Socio-Ecological Union, a coalition of more than 200 organizations throughout the former Soviet Union working to address Russia’s immense environmental problems. Read more »
A modest man who inspires trust, Svet Zabelin has played a leading role in raising public awareness of environmental problems in the former Soviet Union and in building a grassroots environmental movement that helped spark the country's democratic transformation. The relentless drive to industrialize the country during the Soviet era resulted in widespread environmental degradation, a problem that continues as the Russian Federation further opens its borders to multi-national corporations to capitalize on its abundant natural resources. In 1970, Zabelin was the coordinator of the Student Nature-Guards Movement, a unique independent, non-governmental movement in the USSR. In 1987, during the period of glasnost, Zabelin and friends from the Nature-Guards Movement spearheaded the creation of the Socio-Ecological Union (SEU), a non-governmental environmental coalition that has grown to include nearly 200 smaller organizations throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States and the West. The projects of SEU are diverse and include assisting residents of areas contaminated with radiation, establishing a network of environmental monitoring stations, studying environmental illnesses and protecting threatened species. As director of the SEU's Coordination and Information Center from 1987 to 1992, Zabelin created a computer network that fostered cooperation among environmentalists scattered across the former Soviet Union, thereby forming a cohesive environmental movement. From 1991 to 1993 Zabelin also worked as special assistant to Alexei Yablokov, Russian President Boris Yeltsin's Counsellor on Ecology and Health, where he drafted environmental protection laws. He was instrumental in establishing NGO rights to monitor the condition of natural resources in Russia and to legally challenge those who violate environmental laws. In 1993 Zabelin left the government in order to again work with SEU full-time. In 1995 Zabelin drafted a document on sustainable development in Russia, which was discussed as an alternative to official policies.
"We are at the beginning of that path that can lead humankind to humanity."
A Lakota, she helped stop proposed nuclear weapons testing in North Dakota’s Black Hills and also worked to prevent hazardous landfills from being located in the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. Read more »
JoAnn Tall belongs to the Oglala Lakota tribe in the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, located in one of the nation's poorest counties. As a mother of eight children who suffers from crippling rheumatoid arthritis, Tall has overcome severe obstacles to improve the conditions of the Lakota people and preserve their sacred land.
Guided by her prophetic dreams and spiritual experiences, Tall began a history of environmental activism through raising awareness about the health hazards of local uranium mining and the dangers inherent in a proposed Honeywell nuclear weapons testing site. Using her Indian-owned and operated radio station, she informed the Lakota people of the impending desecration of their sacred Black Hills. After she erected a resistance camp of tipis and a sweat lodge at the proposed testing site, Honeywell abandoned its plans.
Tall later co-founded the Native Resource Coalition, dedicated to research and education for the Lakota people on issues of land, health and the environment. When the AMCOR Company appoached the tribal council about locating a 5,000 acre landfill and incinerator on the reservation, Tall vehemently opposed and began to speak out against the project. When Tall learned that tribes across the country had been similarly approached, she found further resolve to halt the project. Tall's organizing efforts finally paid off. Pressure from tribal members ultimately convinced the tribal council to reject AMCOR's proposal - although the council had initially disapproved of Tall's objections. Later, a related company approached the neighboring Rosebud Reservation with the same offer. Tall helped the people of Rosebud halt that project as well. These victories have influenced other reservations across the country to fight against proposed waste dumps.
Tall has served on the board of directors of the Seventh Generation Fund. She has increasingly taken on the role of an elder, acting as an advisor and educator. She focuses on providing spiritual guidance to youth while continuing to inspire both native and non-native people around the world to protect the environment.
"The whole focus that I've always worked on as a grassroots environmentalist is that you do not tear up Mother Earth."
Submitted by josinclair93 on Tue, 2006-03-07 11:19
Successfully stopped sand mining and logging of the unique rainforest on Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, off the coast of Queensland. Read more »
For over 30 years, John Sinclair led a fierce battle to protect Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island, located off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Against strong local opposition, he succeeded in stopping sand mining on the island and convinced the government to halt logging of the island's unique rainforest. In 1992, 25 years after the campaign began, Fraser Island was added to the World Heritage List of outstanding natural wonders of the world.
Concerned about the increase of sand mining on the island by multinational corporations, Sinclair formed the Fraser Island Defenders Organization (FIDO) in 1971 to alert Australians to the island's unusual qualities and to generate public opposition to sand mining. As a result, Sinclair suffered terror and abuse from the local community who feared the loss of jobs. Undaunted, he successfully battled the Queensland government in a number of court cases, which helped define public interest law in Australia, but led Sinclair to bankruptcy. He lost his job and was forced to leave his hometown. Even though he no longer lived in the area, Sinclair organized a successful campaign to stop logging on Fraser Island.
Sinclair continued his work to ensure that tourism development was controlled and that the island's resources were properly managed. He produced FIDO's newsletter, MOONBI, and was involved in other publishing projects to improve the island's management. He has also served as a member of a government committee overseeing the management of the Fraser Island.
Sinclair worked on other conservation efforts as well. He assisted the voluntary conservation movement of South Africa in preventing sand mining in the dune systems of Zululand's Greater St. Lucia region. He focused on ways to enhance the role and effectiveness of volunteers in environmental protection and worked to improve the protection given to all World Heritage Sites.
Organizing eco-tours from Sydney, Sinclair continued to work to enhance the Australian network of conservation volunteers. In 1998, he organized a canoe trip down Australia's greatest remaining wild river, the Fitzroy, which was instrumental in a decision not to dam the waterway.
A journalist, she took great personal risk to publish a collection of essays by Chinese intellectuals critical of the damming of the Yangtze, a project that would create the world’s largest hydroelectric dam.
Daughter of a revolutionary martyr, former missile technician and one-time intelligence agent, Dai Qing is a fearless journalist who has been outspoken in her opposition to the Chinese government's plans for the Three Gorges dam. Read more »
Daughter of a revolutionary martyr, former missile technician and one time intelligence agent, Dai Qing is a fearless journalist who has been outspoken in her opposition to the Chinese government's plans for the Three Gorges dam. If completed on the Yangtze River according to the current plan, Three Gorges will be the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. The 175 meter high dam will create a narrow lake 600 kilometers long, flood 800 villages, force the resettlement of over 1.8 million people and submerge 100,000 hectares of China's most fertile farmland. It will also inundate a magnificent stretch of canyons, considered to be one of the cradles of Chinese civilization, and further endanger highly threatened species including the giant panda, the river dolphin and the clouded leopard. After challenging the Three Gorges project in China's press, Dai Qing compiled Yangtze! Yangtze!, a collection of essays, interviews and petitions by prominent Chinese scholars critical of the dam. In 1989, at great risk, she was able to get the book published. Yangtze! Yangtze! inspired dam opposition which played a critical role in pressuring the Chinese government to postpone the project. Then, in the wake of the military crackdown in Beijing in June 1989, Yangtze! Yangtze! was officially banned on grounds that it had "abetted the turmoil" of the pro-democracy movement. Dai Qing was banned from publishing in China and was imprisoned for 10 months. In 1993 the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation withdrew financial and technical support for the project. Meanwhile, the World Bank, under pressure from environmentalists, decided not to loan the Chinese government money for the massive dam, which could cost up to $77 billion. Despite national and international opposition to the mega-project and a decided lack of international investors, the Chinese government began work on the Three Gorges Dam in 1994. Construction is expected to take 20 years. Believing they still have a chance to stop construction, Dai Qing and international environmental groups continue to challenge the gargantuan dam.
"The highest expression of dignity can be summed up in the single word 'No!' - being able to say 'No!' when you disagree."
Submitted by jumayrmaldonado93 on Mon, 2006-03-06 17:12
United disparate groups to work for the protection of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world’s highest coastal mountain range.
Colombia's Juan Mayr led a brilliant campaing to protect the world's highest coastal mountain range, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Rising abruptly from the beaches of the Caribbean to 18,947 feet, the Sierra Nevada is a striking example of Colombia's phenomenal biodiversity. Every type of ecosystem is represented - arctic tundra, rainforest, desert - and like the larger world, it is imperiled. Read more »
Colombia's Juan Mayr has led a brilliant crusade for the world's highest coastal mountain, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Rising abruptly from the beaches of the Caribbean to 18,947 feet, the Sierra Nevada is a striking example of Colombia's phenomenal biodiversity. Every type of ecosystem is represented - arctic tundra, rainforest, desert - and like the larger world, it is imperiled.
A photographer turned environmentalist, for two years Mayr made his home in the Sierra Nevada and lived with the Kogi, one of the last functioning pre-Colombian civilizations. The Kogi, who live in villages high on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, worship knowledge and believe that they are the "Elder Brother" of Mankind. They feel responsible for keeping the balance of the universe and view the rest of mankind as the "Younger Brother" who through ignorance and greed is killing the Great Mother (Earth). The Kogi, who Mayr now promote as exemplary managers of the environment, have resolved to have minimal contact with the outside world.
In 1986, Mayr founded the Fundación Pro-Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and served as its executive director. Using his great communication skills, Mayr has worked hard to develop a participative conservation strategy to bring together regional government, peasant farmers, indigenous peoples, scientists, local and international conservationists and different armed groups that operate in the region for the mountain's conservation. After four years of meetings, workshops and consultations, the Fundación Pro-Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta developed a participatory conservation development plan for the area.
In June 1994, after 500 years of struggle, 19,500 hectares of traditional lands on the Caribbean coast were returned to the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada by the Colombian government. Over 300 Kogi, Arsario and Arhuaco Indians walked down from the mountain to the sea to attend this historic event.
In August 1998, Mayr was appointed minister of the environment by the Colombian President Andres Pastrana. Mayr resigned as the director of the Fundación Pro-Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, but remains an active board member.
"We have found that education and water resources are key to bringing all different parties together."
Submitted by majacobsohn93 on Mon, 2006-03-06 14:56
Their natural resource management program, a model throughout Africa, links Namibian wildlife conservation to sustainable rural development. Read more »
In Namibia's two most remote corners Garth Owen-Smith and Margaret Jacobsohn have been striving to assist rural communities to link social and economic development to the conservation of the region's spectacular wildlife and other natural resources. The program started in 1983 as an attempt to control rampant illegal hunting which had decimated all wildlife species including black rhinos and desert-adapted elephant. It also focused on facilitating social and economic benefits to rural people from the wildlife they live side by side with. Fifteen years later there is cause for hope and optimism in rural Namibia: most wildlife species have increased in the northwest Kunene region and in Caprivi, in the northeast of Namibia, poaching is being brought under control with major input from community appointed community game guards. Other natural resources - from palm trees, thatching grass, plant dyes to water lilies - are being monitored by locally appointed women. The community-based natural resource management pioneered by the NGO set up by Owen-Smith and Jacobsohn received official support in 1996 when the Namibian government passed what is known as the communal area conservancy legislation. This innovative amendment empowers rural communities who live on state-owned communal lands to manage and benefit from their own wildlife in the same way as farmers on privately owned farms. A conservancy can be described as a business owned by a number of resident members or share-holders. It is a multiple use zone where a group of rural farmers have decided to formalize and institute a common property management system in terms of wildlife and related economic activities. Smith and Jacobsohn's focus today is providing support to communities wishing to form conservancies as the areas designated for wildlife use in Namibia are expanding considerably. In addition, communities are earning income and rural jobs are being created via the establishment of natural resource related enterprises. These enterprises include lucrative joint ventures between commercial tourism companies and communities, community owned and managed rest camps and camp-sites, cultural villages for tourists and a host of related small businesses. Perhaps the most significant development of all is that one of the first Namibian communal area conservancies, Torra, has started taking over its own natural resource management costs, using its own income. With Owen-Smith and Jacobsohn's unwavering support, a viable communally owned business based on wildlife and generating jobs and income has started to operate in what was once a remote, marginalized rural area.
"Our objective is to link conservation and development so that wildlife and other natural resources once again benefit ordinary Africans."