UNT philosophy professor and ecologist Dr. Ricardo Rozzi was awarded the 2017 Enrique Beltran Prize for the Conservation of Natural Resources, during the 2017 International Congress for Natural Resources which met in Mexico City, Mexico, September 6 - 8, 2017.
The prize is awarded by The Wildlife Society of Mexico, in conjunction with the International Council on Natural Resources and Wildlife. This prize is named after Enrique Beltran who is recognized as the first biologist in Mexico and, among other accomplishments, founded the Mexican Institute for Sustainable Natural Resources in 1952 and is known as one of the first conservationists working in Mexico.
This year was the first year that the committee of judges for the prize decided to open the nominations to include researchers and scholars from outside of Mexico. Dr. Mary Kalin Arroyo, professor of biology at the University of Chile and the 2010 recipient of the Chilean National Prize of Sciences, nominated Dr. Ricardo Rozzi due to his long-standing contribution to the interdisciplinary research and practice of environmental ethics. Both Dr. Arroyo and Dr. Rozzi work with the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB), Chile.
The awarding of this prize coincides with the announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile of the creation of the Cape Horn Marine Park near the southernmost point of Chile. The park measures 140,000 square kilometers, or just under 87,000 square miles, and includes the Diego Ramirez Archipelago.
The creation of the marine park is a result of research which Dr. Rozzi has been leading since 2000 in and around Cape Horn. The work started with the discovery of Cape Horn as a biodiversity "hotspot" of non-vascular flora (mosses) in a region known for its challenging sailing conditions, journey of Charles Darwin, and as the home of the Fuegian Yaghan people.
The creation of the park delineates a large marine natural laboratory area in which Dr. Rozzi and his colleagues will continue to research and promote biocultural conservation for the region. To that end, Dr. Rozzi has led since 2010 the project for the design and construction of the Sub-Antarctic Cape Horn Center in Puerto Williams, the capital city of Cape Horn County, and the Chilean Antarctic Province.
With the addition of this protected area and the continued work on the Sub-Antarctic Cape Horn Center, Dr. Rozzi proposes to continue his conservation work in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, what he refers to as the "jewel of our planet." It is for this purpose that Dr. Rozzi created and heads the Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program. This program is a multidisciplinary effort coordinated by the University of North Texas (UNT) in the U.S., and the University of Magallanes (UMAG), IEB, and the Omora Foundation in Chile. The aim of the Program is to contribute to informed decision making about the Cape Horn region at local, national and international scales. Toward this end, this partnership that Dr. Rozzi has forged between UNT, UMAG and IEB provides today a model recognized internationally through this award.
Written by Victoria DeCuir - Administrative Coordinator of UNT Sub-Antartic Biocultural Conservation Program