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With imminent extinctions of key species in Brazil, Alberto Campos has turned the protection of endangered species into his life’s project. When he co-founded Aquasis in 1994, he decided to establish long-term conservation programmes for several species. Alberto focusses his efforts with Aquasis into protecting endangered birds, primates and manatees, as well as their habitats in Northeastern Brazil. . Alberto and his team successfully built and run the largest Rehabilitation Centre for orphaned manatees in Brazil, while conserving the natural areas where manatees occur. They have also set up campaigns to create protected areas for three Critically Endangered bird species spread over four Brazilian states.
Alberto studied Fisheries Engineering in Brazil. While still a student, he co-founded Aquasis in 1994. Aquasis is a conservation NGO aimed at developing conservation projects to protect endangered birds, primates and manatees in Brazil. After co-founding this NGO, Alberto continued studying Marine Biology. He became full time general coordinator of Aquasis once he finished his studies in 1998. Throughout his career, Alberto became a member of the State Council for the Environment in 2000, and wrote a chapter on Coastal Management for the UNESCO Global Environmental Outlook Brazil series.
Vision and Approach
Alberto Campos is determined to preserve the living building blocks of natural habitats. Manatees are keystone species in their coastal ecosystem. Their activity helps maintain the fish nurseries that sustain local artisanal fisheries. However, human occupation of mangrove birthing grounds, forces female manatees to give birth in open water, leaving many youngsters stranded. Part of Alberto’s work is running the largest rehabilitation centre for marine mammals (CRMM) in Brazil. CRMM was born out of the need to have a rehabilitation centre closer to the areas where manatee strandings were most common. Besides rehabilitating orphaned manatees, Aquasis also works to protect manatee habitat. Their work has resulted in the prohibition of damaging fishing practices on shallow manatee habitats, and the repeal of plans to set up oil drilling platforms on manatee feeding grounds. But their work is not just about manatees. They also run projects on bird and primate conservation and manage a nature reserve. Their approach is multisided, from research, to environmental education, and to influencing policy. All while never losing sight of the value these ecosystem services bring to the communities that depend on them, especially fishing communities.
“My life project is to do as much as possible to prevent extinctions, in order to preserve the living building blocks of natural habitats and maintain the invaluable ecosystem services that are indispensable for the well-being of all species – humans included – around the globe. My mission is to preserve the pieces of this evolving biodiversity puzzle that we are all part of.”Alberto Campos
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- The Future For Nature Award gave the financial support to conduct critical actions for manatee conservation in Brazil.
- The media exposure arising from the Future For Nature Award has benefited not just the manatee project, but Aquasis as a whole.
‘’Alberto Campos creates a strong and very direct link between conservation and people's livelihoods. His project helps people improve their lives through effective management of mangroves and coastal areas. The project is clearly led by someone who can inspire, bring together, and communicate with very different groups of people.’’Ms. Annette Lanjouw, International Selection Committee