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BRIT names two to receive 2020 International Award of Excellence in Conservation

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) announced June 11 that  Cristina Mittermeier and Russell A. Mittermeier are recipients of its 2020 International Award of Excellence in Conservation for their conservation achievements and their ongoing work in biodiversity and communicating the trials and successes of species and ecosystem survival.
Lauren-Ashton and John Moncrief will serve as event chairs for the award gala to be held on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Palmwood Event & Conference, Frost Tower, Fort Worth.

Cristina Mittermeier


Both Mittermeiers have devoted their lives to protecting Earth’s natural habitat and informing and influencing people as to the delicate balance between nature and traditional cultures. Even though their schedules and programs have them traveling almost constantly around the world, they still collaborate on authoring and producing books every year.
“When creating a short list of potential conservation award recipients, you have to consider the achievements of both Cristina and Russ Mittermeier. Together or separately, their research and conservation photography accomplishments set a standard that few people can best,” said Ed Schneider, BRIT’s executive director. “This year, our admiration flowed on both sides, so when it came time to vote, the committee voted for both of them.”


Cristina and Russ Mittermeier were married for 20 years before divorcing in 2011. Even after their personal relationship ended, they continued to maintain a professional association resulting in several conservation books including: The IUCN Red List 50 Years of Conservation, 2014; Earth’s Legacy Natural World Heritage, 2015; A Geography of Hope Saving the Last Primary Forests, 2016; and Nature’s Solutions to Climate Change, 2019.
Cristina Mittermeier is a marine biologist and a photographer. Her work is about building a greater awareness of the responsibility of what it means to be a human, BRIT said in the news release.

Russell A. Mittermeier


She is a National Geographic contributing photographer, a Sony Artisan of Imagery, the editor of 28 coffee table books on conservation issues, and her own book, Amaze, published by TeNeues in 2018. To help draw attention to places and species that need protection, she coined the term “conservation photography” as a new discipline to elevate the work of nature photographers and to influence the public.


In 2005 she founded the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to provide a platform for photographers working on environmental issues.
In 2018 she was named one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year and was acknowledged as one of the most Influential Women in Ocean Conservation by Ocean Geographic. In 2019, she was elected a Fellow of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and named one of the 18 Most Adventurous Women in the World by The Men’s Journal.
Today, she is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of SeaLegacy, a nonprofit dedicated to changing the narrative for our world’s oceans. Popular on social media, she is the first female photographer to reach one million followers on Instagram.
She lives on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada, with her partner, Paul Nicklen, co-founder of SeaLegacy and National Geographic photographer.
Russell Mittermeier was named a “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine in 1999 and was winner of the Indianapolis Prize in 2018.
He was , wildlife conservationist, Russ Mittermeier was born in the Bronx, New York, and grew up on Long Island. He attributes his interest in wildlife principally to two factors. One was his mother, a German immigrant and housewife who loved animals and took him almost weekly to the Bronx Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History as a child, and the other was the legend of Tarzan, created by author Edgar Rice Burroughs.
As a trained primatologist and herpetologist, he has traveled widely in 169 countries on seven continents and has conducted field work in more than 30 − focusing particularly on Amazonia (especially Brazil and Suriname), the Atlantic forest region of Brazil, and Madagascar.
Mittermeier’s work concentrates heavily on conserving tropical rainforests and their primates and developing the mechanisms necessary to conserve them. He is considered the world’s preeminent primate conservationist, and in April 2019, he became the first person in history to see all 79 primate genera in the wild.
His fieldwork has led to describing 21 new species (three turtles, seven lemurs, four tarsiers, and seven monkeys) and has eight species named in his honor (three frogs, a lizard, two lemurs, a saki monkey, and an ant). For the past several years, a major focus of his work has been centered on Madagascar.

He currently is Chief Conservation Officer of Global Wildlife Conservation. Prior to this position, he served for three years as Executive Vice Chair at Conservation International and as President of that organization from 1989 to 2014; before that he was at the World Wildlife Fund-US for 11 years.
As president of Conservation International, he concentrated on finding and documenting biodiversity hotspots. Over the course of 20 years, based on research conducted by Mittermeier and colleagues, the number of known hotspots has been increased to 36 with a land mass roughly the size of India. He has published more than 40 books and more than 700 popular and scientific articles.


The International Award of Excellence in Conservation, created in 1995, is presented to honor individuals and organizations that exemplify the ideals expressed in BRIT’s two-fold mission of conservation and education. Honorees include scientists, conservationists, heads of state, philanthropists, Pulitzer Prize winners, politicians and other notables.
Tickets to BRIT’s award presentation dinner may be purchased at:  http://www.brit.org/international-awards/international-award-excellence-conservation/2020-international-award
BRIT is a nonprofit, international research and education organization that collects and safeguards plant specimens, studies and protects living plants, and teaches about the importance of conservation and biodiversity to the world.
On May 19, the City of Fort Worth approved an agreement for BRIT to begin managing the Fort Worth Botanic Garden effective Oct. 1, 2020.
www.brit.org
– FWBP Staff