Recipient of the 2-Year “Innovation in Community -Based Conservation for Bear” (R&C) Grant for 2018-2019 has been announced. Congratulations to Russ van Horn and his team of investigators, Fanny Cornejo, Carlos Jimenez, Nicholas Pilfold, and Megan Owen at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

IBA was able to offer a special two-year grant for innovation in community-based conservation for bears this year.  Thanks to an anonymous donor, the grant provides $30,000 over 2018-2019, in order to assist the creation and implementation of innovative conservation solutions anchored in local community and science.

Competition for the special award was strong, as the Research and Conservation Grant (RCG) Committee received 10 very solid proposals for the grant.  With such high-quality proposals submitted, it was not easy to take a final decision and choosing amongst top-ranked proposals took hours of careful deliberation. To this aim, the Research and Conservation Grant Committee was supported by two professionals (Steve & Juliette Grant Reviewers Bio) whose expertise rests on community-based approaches to conservation, so that the final evaluation was particularly focused on this aspect.

The RCG wishes to thank all of the authors for such excellent submissions. Unsuccessful proposals that had been submitted with a scaled-down version and budget for inclusion in the regular grants process are being evaluated by the committee within the regular Research and Conservation Grant.

The winner of the Tropical Bear Award for 2018 is “Community-based conservation of Andean bears in northeast Peru”, submitted by Russ Van Horn (San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research), and co-investigators Fanny Cornejo, Carlos Jimenez, Nicholas Pilfold and Megan Owen.  The well-written proposal included interesting innovations in community-based conservation, clear testing of assumptions about ecotourism, and developing a comprehensive system of examining and assessing community involvement as a part of conservation.

The ultimate goal of the project is to increase support for Andean bears and other wildlife species, and to promote coexistence between wildlife and the communities living in and near protected areas in the Amazonas of northeastern Peru.   The objectives are to examine and employ adaptive management and research activities to balance the benefits with the impacts on the local community, bears and other wildlife and to evaluate whether improved income from ecotourism affects local attitudes and tolerance for coexisting with bears.  The study will look at the question of how ecotourism can be designed to benefit both bears and communities.  Also, in pursuit of the objectives the study will expand a community-based ecotourism program and develop and test a community-based damage mitigation program.  The team has already built many of the relationships necessary to begin these efforts, and they have assembled an effective field team.  The team will use pilot data to begin testing approaches to developing sound community-based ecotourism and research that benefits locals and wildlife.

Once again, the RGC would like to thank everyone who submitted a special grant proposal. It is wonderful to have some many worthy projects focusing on the critical issue of implementing conservation on the ground with local community involvement.