Press Release

Two Conservation Pioneers Awarded the 2023 National Geographic Society/Buffett Award

The global nonprofit celebrates this year’s National Geographic/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation in Africa and Latin America

Credit: (For José Manuel, Left) Bruno García, (For Lily, Right) John C. Mittermeier

Photograph by Credit: (For José Manuel, Left) Bruno García, (For Lily, Right) John C. Mittermeier

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 25, 2023)—To recognize their achievements and leadership in their respective conservation roles, Lily-Arison Rene de Roland and José Manuel Briceño Linares have been awarded the 2023 National Geographic/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation.

The National Geographic/Buffett Awards for Leadership in Conservation were established in partnership with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to recognize and celebrate unsung conservation heroes. Two awards are presented each year: one for achievement in Africa and the other for achievement in Latin America.

These outstanding individuals have demonstrated leadership in managing and protecting the natural resources in their regions and countries, and are inspirational conservation advocates who serve as role models and mentors.

“We applaud Lily and José Manuel whose vision, actions, contributions, and spirit of collaboration make them some of the finest examples of planetary stewardship today,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO of the National Geographic Society. “Their dedicated leadership is moving the needle in conservation and, equally important, inspiring and galvanizing others to follow their examples.”

A Malagasy biodiversity conservationist, Lily-Arison Rene de Roland has been studying Madagascar’s imperiled raptors since joining The Peregrine Fund’s Madagascar Program in 1992, and later becoming the National Director of the program in 2004. He has helped discover and rediscover several species including an endemic duck thought to be extinct and two undescribed lemur species, as well as having contributed to the establishment of five national protected areas and revolutionizing conservation in Madagascar with the development of a community-based model addressing drivers of human-wildlife conflicts. His work has preserved some of the best remaining natural habitats in Madagascar and continues to pave the way for the future of conservation and preserving biological diversity in Madagascar while inspiring his community.

"In the future, I [hope] to learn more about biodiversity–not only for birds–as Madagascar has lots of biodiversity to learn about and protect," said Lily-Arison Rene de Roland on the future of his award-winning conservation work. "I also hope to continue to train students to become specialists on conservation and to support local communities who live around protected areas."

A biologist and environmentalist, José Manuel Briceño Linares has worked for the last twenty years in the Yellow-shouldered Parrot Conservation Program in the Macanao Peninsula, Margarita Island. He currently works as Deputy Regional Director of Provita and Coordinator of the Yellow-shouldered Amazon Conservation Program and has helped form a group of rangers called Ecoguardians–many of whom are former poachers–working tirelessly to recover the wild population of the Macanao Peninsula on Margarita Island, tripling its population. Concerned that the sustainability of the yellow-shouldered parrot goes beyond the population in Macanao, together with colleagues from Bonaire and Aruba in 2021, they developed the first conservation action plan for the species considering its entire distribution. He has also worked closely with landowners and mining companies on ecological restoration projects to restore depleted mining sites by planting a wide variety of native dry forest trees.

"Conservation is a human act. By acting locally but thinking globally, we can achieve amazing results," José Manuel Briceño Linares said on the impact of his work. "For me, the flourishing of the Yellow-shouldered Parrot is a wonderful conservation success story, as well as an example of how individuals can—indeed—play a major role in protecting the planet."

The awards will be presented to these individuals at the Society’s annual Explorers Festival, which is hosted in partnership with Rolex in the framework of its Perpetual Planet initiative.

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About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.