Jean Thomas received the Future For nature Award in 2010 for her work for the Tenkile Conservation Alliance in Papua New Guinea, which links conservation of the rainforest with educating, supporting and empowering local communities.
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“I was so excited to win the Future For Nature Award. It really helped me feel appreciated for all the hard work my husband and I have been doing for the Tenkile Conservation Alliance for ten years now. The Future For Nature Award has brought international recognition to our organization and our work has been lifted up to another level. We have also been invited to attend the Environmental Laureates Convention in Germany (2013) and are also receiving requests to provide our opinions as consultants. A friend is making a documentary of our work. The Award has given us the confidence to pursue our dream even further and persist in the protection of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest at the national level”.
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The Award has contributed to all aspects of the work with the Tenkile Conservation Alliance, mainly the drama education programmes in the Weimang villages. It has helped provide more support for the organization’s work, raise the level of understanding of what conservation is all about and empower communities to work towards making changes in their hunting habits. The Award has also helped initiate support for local schools. They now run a school fee competition to help local communities pay for school fees and buy equipment for the local schools. The Award has also provided important administrative support in all other areas of their work, such as:
- A major water and sanitation programme funded by the European Union, which has improved the lives of communities
- Providing villages with alternative protein sources in the form of fish farming
- Providing village representatives with mobile phones for regular communication, producing newsletters and holding meetings throughout the year
- Providing training and employment opportunities during field research – distance sampling and camera trapping has shown that the Tenkile population has increased from 100 animals to over 300 animals
- Providing villages with HIV/AIDS and family planning awareness, an interactive education programme that is the first of its kind in the project area
- Continuing to provide awareness on climate change in preparation for carbon trading – initial surveys and research have been conducted in the hope that we will become pioneers for Papua New Guinea’s first carbon trading scheme
“Jean Thomas has shown exceptional dedication in making a long-term commitment to the conservation of two of the most threatened mammal species in Papua New Guinea. She is working in an extraordinary difficult place in which to achieve successful conservation results, but through working with local communities, empowering them, and seeing conservation as a long-term endeavour, she is seeing real results.” – 2010, Simon Stuart, International Selection Committee