BGCI Announces 2020 Marsh Award Recipients

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The Marsh Awards are awarded annually by the Marsh Christian Trust, in partnership with BGCI, in recognition of excellence in International Plant Conservation and Botanic Garden Education.

BGCI is pleased to announce Jeannie Raharimampionona as the winner of the 2020 Marsh Award for International Plant Conservation and Tara Moreau as the winner of the 2020 Marsh Award for Education in Botanic Gardens.

Jeannie Raharimampionona – 2020 Marsh Award for International Plant Conservation

Jeannie Raharimampionona joined Missouri Botanical Garden’s (MBG) Madagascar Program in 1999 with qualifications in teaching and plant taxonomy. Initially she helped populate MBG’s electronic database to Malagasy plants by capturing label information from herbarium specimens while also working as a curator in Madagascar’s national forest herbarium. However, in 2000, MBG launched an urgently needed project to identify orphan Priority Areas for Plant Conservation (PAPCs) in Madagascar, and Jeannie was asked to co-manage this work. Through this research Jeannie came to the shocking realisation that a large proportion of her country’s remarkable flora was extremely threatened, and that few were aware of or cared about the risk of imminent botanical apocalypse.

However, fortunately, Jeannie was now aware, she did care, and she was ready for action. First, applying her formidable powers of persuasion, she lobbied successfully to integrate PAPCs into her government’s bold vision to enlarge the network of protected areas. She then worked hard to convince conservation organizations to adopt some of these orphan sites. While she had some success in this endeavour, it was not enough, and, setting aside MBG’s traditional focus on research Jeannie led a small group of like-minded Malagasy colleagues to seek the required funds, and to build the requisite capacity, to launch a site-based conservation program within MBG.

Over the last 17 years she single-mindedly nurtured this program so that now she is directing and coordinating the conservation management of 11 new protected areas (NPA), all of which were once orphan PAPCs, with a total area of 43,000 ha. Incomplete inventories of these sites list 4370 native plant species – about one third of Madagascar’s flora. This inventory includes hundreds of local endemics and threatened species some of which would now be extinct without this intervention. For example, the elegant Memecylon xiphophyllum, known from only 15 individuals at the historically much abused Analalava Forest, would have been lost without Jeannie’s intervention to designate and manage this site as a NPA.

Jeannie is passionate about plant conservation but expresses her passion not with hot air and clever tirades, but rather through persistence and hard work. Every day, including weekends, Jeannie fights for ‘her’ flora with action: sitting undaunted at minister’s doors; preparing immaculate and compelling presentations for a ceaseless series of stakeholder workshops; nurturing staff capacity over the wide array of competences required for success in community-based conservation; nurturing diverse partnerships with empathy, honesty, professionalism and charm; addressing the dull details of administration so that resources are available where and when they are needed; and, despite all that, always finding time to provide advice and encouragement to team members overwhelmed by the scale of what they have committed to achieve. That is true passion, that is real commitment!

– Chris Birkinshaw, Technical Advisor, Missouri Botanical Garden

Tara Moreau – 2020 Marsh Award for Education in Botanic Gardens

Since joining UBC Botanical Garden in 2014 as Associate Director of Sustainability and Community Programs, Dr. Tara Moreau has expanded the garden’s education and outreach programs exponentially, and with them the profile of botanical gardens. Her work has resulted in significant garden-based programing, frequent peer reviewed publication, and wide-reaching community engagement related to the conservation of natural resources, safeguarding global biodiversity, and the preservation of human culture and knowledge at local, national, and international scales.

Tirelessly championing the role of public gardens as important agents in guiding socially and environmentally conscious behaviour, Tara has developed effective programs tailored to all ages and experiences, including the novel Sustainable Communities Field School program that delivers content connecting team building, resilience, mindfulness, and sustainability in an integrated manner tailored to private businesses and other corporate agencies. An innovative aspect of the SCFS is the inclusion of behavioural research to assess the impact of experiential learning on behavioural change. This program has generated $1,000,000 in donor funding due to its recognized need and potential for positive impact.

Tara approaches all projects, big or small, with tremendous enthusiasm, spirit, and drive. Working alongside Tara on a number of projects has shown that her passion for education is deep and sincere, and her tremendous energy comes from a true belief in the power of positive change. Importantly, Tara champions the vital role botanical garden professionals have in making this change a reality. She serves as both a colleague and a mentor to those she works with, and has consistently demonstrated her leadership capacity at local, regional, and global scales.

– Patrick Lewis, Director, UBC Botanical Garden

Calling all Experts

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