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8 environmental stewards win $900,000 in biodiversity awards

NEW YORK CITY, August 3--Eight scientists and environmental advocates from around the world today were named winners of US$900,000 in Biodiversity Leadership Awards. The winners find, catalog, and defend diversity in species-rich and biologically endangered areas of the United States, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, the Philippines, New Caledonia, and Madagascar.

The new winners join thirteen others from previous years in sharing US$3.2 million in prestigious no-strings-attached awards for environmental stewardship. The awards are made by The Bay Foundation and the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation of New York City, with the advice of a panel of advisers.

This year, for the first time, two of the winners were designated Biodiversity Emerging Leaders for their "early achievements and creative excellence in solving problems relevant to biodiversity. . ." They will receive awards of US$90,000 each, while three of the Leadership Award winners receive US$180,000 awards, to be spread over three years. Three others were tied for a Leadership Award and receive US$60,000 each.

The awards recognize previous and potential excellence. Winners may use their awards in any way they like, though all winners so far have plowed their funds back into biodiversity projects. There is no application process for the awards; nominations and selections are made by the advisers.

The winners announced today are:

Maria Marta Chavarria, nominated for a Leadership Award for her work in identifying and conserving biodiversity in Costa Rica's Area Conservacion Guanacaste (ACG). The ACG is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, and is widely known and highly valued among the scientific community. Chavarria, a native of Costa Rica, wears many hats (as do conservationists in most developing countries): She is an expert in both insect and plant taxonomy and conservation biologist, as well as fund-raiser, organizer, edu
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