Patricia has focused her life’s work on researching and conserving Dugongs, a marine mammal found in warm coastal waters in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. She first became concerned about the status of the species when she joined an aerial survey in Palau. After three consecutive days of searching, they only managed to observe 27 Dugongs. Patricia is co-founder of the NGO C3 Community Centred Conservation and is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Sirenian Specialist Group. She and her team developed an innovative incentive-based conservation model, where the community commits to reducing threats to endangered marine species and habitats. Since its inception, the programme has reported no dugong mortalities at C3’s permanent programmes in Fiji, the Philippines, and Madagascar. All programmes are 100% run by local staff, with an active core of several hundred volunteer adults and youth engaged in conservation activities.
After finishing her studies in Zoology and Environmental Science, Patricia travelled to the Pacific archipelago of Palau, to study the most remote population of Dugongs in the world. Patricia realised this population was very small, when after searching for three consecutive days, they only had 27 Dugong sightings. She decided to co-found the NGO (C3) in 2002, which resulted in a conservation action plan that has assisted the dugong population to recover. She has since been the director of C3, operating in over five countries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Vision and Approach
Patricia hopes to help people help nature. She believes protecting nature can be a win-win situation for local communities. When she helped bring the NGO “C3” to life, they envisioned a planet where future generations thrived in harmony with their natural environment. With dugongs as their flagship species, C3 incentivises remote coastal communities to manage their resources more sustainably, and to take an active part in the conservation of endangered species. The work of C3 focuses on increasing the resilience of coastal communities to climate change, on promoting traditional ecological practices and knowledge, and on empowering women and girls in those communities. C3 also coordinates youth leadership programmes in sustainable development across the nation, and is contributing to a new school curriculum integrating environmental studies.
“The Future For Nature Award enabled us to initiate new alternative livelihood projects to increase household income whilst reducing pressure on dwindling fisheries. It really allowed our communities to see tangible benefits in being actively involved in protecting endangered species and habitats."Patricia Davis
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- Patricia kickstarted an innovative community incentives programme in Madagascar with the help of the Future For Nature Award money. This programme links community essential services, such as healthcare, with the management of marine protected areas.
- Receiving the FFN Award helped Patricia and C3 secure additional funding and become a community conservation model. Their incentive programme has now expanded within key biodiversity areas in Madagascar.
- The ‘Junior Ecoguards’ youth network has now been recognised as a great success by the Ministry of Education. This led to a partnership in developing school curricula and coordinating youth environmental leadership programmes nationally.
"Patricia assembled a multi-skilled group to study the area and design a plan for involving local communities in several fishery villages at Madagascar. Through this action, Patricia has shown her strong leadership ability. The idea of introducing environmental mortgages into the local poor communities linking them to the marine environment and species protection proved to be quite effective and can be replicated through the coastal communities of East Africa."Ms. Masha Vorontsova, International Selection Committee