Marsh Award for International Plant Conservation

This Award, run in partnership with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) recognises an individual in the early to mid-stages of their career, who has made a significant achievement in the conservation of rare and endangered plant species and plant diversity.

Nominations are submitted through BGCI’s membership network. They are judged by the BGCI International Advisory Council before being submitted to the MCT for final judging.

Visit BGCI’s website for more information on how to nominate.

Pictured: Kunle Olasupo, 2017 winner

Deepu Sivadas 2021

Deepu is a PostDoctoral Fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute. He is trained as a Plant Ecologist and Taxonomist with a primary interest in the conservation ecology of threatened plants in India, using reintroductions and translocations to improve their conservation status. He has contributed to updating the conservation status of about 100 species of tree which have in turn contributed to the Global Tree Assessment programme. This work also holds a social significance as the Red Listing of species is one of the pre-requisites for determining the status of ecosystems; and to identify, to manage, and reducing the negative impacts of development projects across a range of sectors in society. It is also vital in formulating government Environmental and Social Impact Assessment policies and financial performance standards. Deepu is a young professional and has shown a high degree of dedication and motivation to conservation actions of threatened plant species. He is a member of the Global Tree Specialist Group and has been widely recognised for his work and contributions to important conservation studies. 

Previous Winners

Jeannie Raharimampiona

Jeannie joined Missouri Botanical Gardens (MBG) Madagascar Program in 1999 with qualifications in teaching and plant taxonomy. She has worked on MBG’s electronic database, capturing information from specimens whilst working as a curator, and due to this she was asked to launch and co-manage a project to identify orphan Priority Areas for Plant Conservation (PAPC). She successfully integrated PAPCs into her governments vision to enlarge the network of protected areas and convinced conservation organizations to adopt some of these sites. Over the last 17 years she single-mindedly nurtured this program, this intervention helped to prevent extinction of some species. Jeannie’s next challenge is to transform the strongest site-based teams into effective Malagasy NGOs independent of MBG. Jeannie has contributed to nearly all the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation targets which include ensuring at least 15% of each ecological region or vegetation type is secured through effective management and/or restoration, ensuring 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity is protected and at least 75 % of known threatened plant species conserved in situ. Jeannie also helped to keep all wild harvested plant-based products sourced sustainably and keep the number of trained people working with appropriate facilities sufficient according to national needs to achieve the targets of this strategy. This large team is almost entirely supported by fundraising efforts.  

Ana Sandoval

Ana Sandoval has been working as a technical researcher at the seedbank of Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) in Vicuña, Chile since 2005. She has dedicated her work life to protect the most threatened endemic native Chilean plant species.
Her achievements include conserving endemic species in the Atacama Desert, and proposing the integrated conservation of three highly threatened endemic tree species. Ana has collected seeds, produced propagation protocols, grown plants, and engaged with local communities to make sure these species natural habitats are not being lost due to human pressures such as mining and construction.

Ana has engaged with the local government of La Serena and has used public spaces such as parks, hospitals and schools for planting individuals of Myrcianthes coquimbensis, a tree endemic to the region and highly threatened with extinction. These plantings have involved local community and interpretation panels designed by Ana and have been used to create a strong impact. Ana and her Institution are part of the advisory panel in a National Plan for the Restoration and Management of the Myrcianthes coquimbensis designed by the Chilean government. She is a conservation advocate and presents her work at conferences worldwide with a primary focus in the local community where these plants grow.

This year, Ana and her team are working on a new conservation proposal in the Antofagasta region, in northern Chile. They will collect and store seeds from these species in the seedbank and will research their ecology, germination and cultivation with the aim of restoring highly threatened endemic species habitats. She is also in the process of creating a botanic garden of endemic and native Chilean flora at the entrance and surrounding area of the seedbank where she works. The botanic garden will add value to the already amazing conservation work carried out at the seedbank.

Christian Torres-Santana

Christian has been working with the conservation of plants since 2005 when he was an undergraduate student of horticulture at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) at Mayagüez and a Biological Science Technician at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His work consisted of leading reforestation efforts and assisting with the monitoring, mapping, and propagation of endangered plants in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2010, Christian earned a Master’s degree in Botany from the University of Hawai’i at, and simultaneously, was a botanist student trainee for the USFWS and completed a 3-month plant conservation internship with the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Among his most remarkable accomplishment during his tenure in Hawai’i was securing funding to expand the Hawai’i Plant Extinction Prevention Program to the island of Kaua’i, where hundreds of endangered plant species occur. Working hand-by-hand with Hawaiian botanists, Christian was trained in field botany, plant systematics, genetics, ecology, pollination biology, and ex situ and in situ conservation.

Since 2014, Christian has been the Director of Arboretum Doña Inés Park of the Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín, a native plant arboretum in San Juan focusing on conservation education, research, and ex situ management of the flora of Puerto Rican and the Caribbean. Since his appointment, the arboretum has dramatically increased in partnerships and has been involved on plant conservation and botanical garden conservation and education programs. Christian is a firm believer in teamwork and has collaborated with multiple agencies and institutions to promote and implement conservation programs for endangered plants. His easiness to communicate with others and charismatic personality has attracted the attention of general public, resulting in an increase on visits to the arboretum from 3,000 to over 15,000 persons per year.

Kunle Olasupo

Kunle is Field Supervisor in the Forest Unit of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria, a programme which carries out projects to help protect and restore the forest, reforest degraded areas and propagate indigenous plants. He helps to maintain the nursery, Ethnobotanical Garden and forest trails, and supervises the planting of trees across all of the projects.

Kunle became interested in trees following his placement at the Centre for Environment, Renewable Natural Resources Management, Research and Development (CENRAD) where he was trained by world-renowned Dr David Ladipo. He has since taken part in a number of high profile projects which have sought to preserve the conservation of trees.

 

 

Dr Jennifer Cruse Sanders

Jennifer has developed conservation programmes at local, state and regional levels in the USA for numerous threatened species and habitats. She has enabled the Atlanta Botanical Garden to become a conservation hub by using cutting-edge technologies, bringing different organisations together to share tools and information and raising awareness of threatened species through the media.

Jennifer’s motivation and creativity is commendable and is demonstrated by her leadership of a number of conservation projects, including the programme she has expanded to conserve the Torrey Pine which has involved the establishment of a national collection of the species at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. She has also developed a survey tool to monitor research and plant conservation at botanic gardens across the USA.

Dr Jože Bavcon

Jože is the Director of the Ljubljana Botanic Garden and works tirelessly for the conservation of Slovenia’s native plants. With minimum staff and a small budget, he has made great progress in raising awareness amongst University staff, politicians and the general public about conserving plant diversity and developing botanic gardens.

Jože focusses on the conservation of endangered plants and has cultivated a number of species at the botanic garden which he then reintroduces to their endangered natural habitats, some of which are now extinct in the wild. He has taken the lead in establishing a network of national botanic gardens in Slovenia and consistently shows exceptional dedication to plant conservation, often appearing in the media and working closely with local authorities.

Zheng Naiyuan

Zheng is a teacher who has focused on the conservation of the threatened Chinese yew. The tree is protected by law in China but has been logged because of its medicinal value. Zheng moved his home to the remote village where the yew grows in order to study and protect it.

Zheng has engaged the efforts of his local village, set up a local conservation group to protect the yew tree population and invited experts to survey and study the plants. The Chinese government and the local people have been inspired by his efforts and in 2010; a local Nature Reserve was officially established.