José González-Maya won the Future For Nature Award in 2015. He works to ensure connectivity and habitat conservation for two of the most threatened and unique eco-regions in Latin America: the Talamanca Mountains in Costa Rica and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. José: “My vision about species conservation focuses on making all the appropriate, pertinent, adequate and science-based decisions to maintain as many species as possible. As species are the basis for ecosystems and their functionality, species conservation has deeper implications from an ecological perspective, such as ecosystem functioning and resilience, and a human perspective, such as the provision of goods and services.
My goal is to produce good-quality science to support decision-making and to improve biodiversity and human well-being. I believe, strategically, that species conservation should be science-based and should incorporate not only the ecological view but also the human perspective so conservation actions have real impacts on long-term wellbeing and sustainability. Since conservation planning requires the involvement of social stakeholders at all levels, solutions should be convincing, supported by good-quality science and should incorporate the interests of all actors involved. In real life, conservation often lacks adequate links between science and society – especially in the tropics.
From my perspective, generating the best available science on a species conservation problem and linking it to social interests and decision-making would help to build a better and more successful conservation practice. My proposal involves both levels of planning, from ecosystem function and species ecology to decision-making and education. Ideally, this will secure comprehensive conservation strategies in Latin-America.”
“José is one of the most prominent new Latin American leaders in biodiversity conservation. He works on a wide variety of species and ecosystems, is an excellent scientist, and is effective in situations ranging from the local field project to international networking. His proposal project is extremely impressive, covering the complexities of ecosystem connectivity, flagship species, local community engagement, education, conservation planning, and policy development” – 2015, Simon Stuart, International Selection Committee