From a young age, Patricia Davis was fascinated by the natural world. She was always outside collecting and studying various animals or inside watching nature documentaries and reading zoological books, so nobody was surprised when she chose to study Zoology at Oxford University. During her specialization in Environmental Management at James Cook University by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Patricia became truly inspired to commit to a lifetime of tropical marine conservation . After her studies, she travelled to the Pacific archipelago of Palau, where she experienced close encounters with the most remote population of dugongs in the world and learnt about the wealth of traditional ecological knowledge still in existence.
Vision and Approach
Patricia’s concerns about dugong were raised when she participated in an aerial survey and had only made 27 sightings of dugongs after three consecutive days of searching. This led her to co-found the NGO Community Centred Conservation (C3).C3 envisages a planet where future generations thrive in harmony with their natural environment. With dugongs as their flagship species, the NGO incentivises remote coastal communities to sustainably manage their resources. The focus is on climate change resilience, traditional ecological and cultural knowledge, marine protected areas, endangered species conservation and empowerment of women and girls. C3 now facilitates national coordination of youth leadership in sustainable development across the nation and is contributing to a new primary and secondary school curriculum integrating environmental studies.
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
“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
- The financial support of the Future For Nature Award made it possible to kickstart an innovative community incentives programme in Madagascar which integrated marine protected area management with better community service provision (health, education, sanitation)
- The community incentives programme was later funded with GEF finance and has now set a precedent as a successful model for community conservation, which C3 is scaling up 3 further key biodiversity areas in Madagascar; illegal fisheries and poaching of sea turtles and dugongs was eliminated as communities became aware and able guardians of their coastal areas, seeing clear benefits from active involvement in conservation.
- Furthermore, the ‘Junior Ecoguards’ youth network has now been recognised as a great success by the Ministry of Education and they are working with them on a new school curriculum as well as coordinating youth environmental leadership nationally, ensuring NGOs partner on activities and resources for maximum impact.
“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.” – 2012, Masha Vorontsova, International Selection Committee