Award winner 2010
Mammals
Location: Brazil

Alberto Campos

Alberto Campos’s life mission is to do as much as possible to prevent extinctions and to protect endangered species in Northeast Brazil. As a student, Alberto co-founded Aquasis, an NGO aimed on developing conservation projects in Brazil to protect the most endangered birds and marine mammals, manatees in particular, and their habitats. By protecting key species, Alberto aims to preserve the pieces of the evolving biodiversity puzzle that we are all part of.

Vision and Approach

Without key species like pollinators, seed dispersers, grazers and keystone carnivores, it is impossible to mimic all the complex ecosystem relations and the resulting environmental services that are provided for free in naturally-balanced environments. However, some key species in north-east Brazil are on the brink of extinction, causing an imbalance in Brazilian ecosystems. Dam construction and shrimp farming are, for example, threatening the natural habitat of manatees. Manatees are keystone species in their coastal ecosystem, as they regulate and fertilize seagrass beds, which are essential nursing grounds for the local artisanal fisheries. Normally, manatees give birth in estuaries, but because the mangrove areas are being occupied, female manatees are forced to give birth in the open sea, causing manatee babies to be stranded. To protect the manatees, 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. In addition, they have set up awareness campaigns to promote habitat restoration and public policies to create and manage public and private protected areas for three critically endangered bird species in six priority areas spread over four Brazilian states.

“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. – 2010, Annette Lanjouw, International Selection Committee