Monday, 24 May 2004

BAFTAs, Oscars and Prizes for Conservation

In recent months several of our supporters have suggested that the World Land Trust deserves an award for its conservation successes, and asks why we aren't better known -- surely getting an award would promote wider recognition. This is probably true. But my response is that awards are inevitably time wasting and I also have a strong personal dislike of them. In over 30 years of involvement in wildlife conservation I have seen, or known about, numerous awards being made, and inevitably many go to the ‘wrong’ person. Not actually the wrong person, but one can often think of someone who was a lot more deserving, but kept out of the limelight. And this is part of the problem -- most awards are made to people, not organisations.

Each year Charity Times (a trade newspaper) organises awards, not unlike the BAFTAs or Oscars, but not only does it take a lot of time to complete all the submissions, it then costs over £100 a head to go and find out who's won. In my view this is a totally inappropriate use of charity funds, and I doubt if the Charity Commission finds it acceptable. Of course some other awards are entirely justified, but usually they are given to people who are already at the peak of their career, and/or probably don't need recognition. Other awards are often based on political correctness.

Meanwhile, back at the World Land Trust, we are just getting on at what we feel we do best -- raising funds, and spending them wisely, and ensuring that some bits of the world survive for the future. It's far more rewarding than sitting on Committees, and going to conferences, and attending awards ceremonies. I have done my share of all of these, and I certainly enjoy conferences -- I've just been to one on the history of natural history, out of pure personal interest, nothing to do with, and certainly not funded by the WLT. And I suppose even a conference like that does have some relevance to conservation, but that's not my point. Conservation funded by public support needs more ACTION and less talking. There are plenty of other sources of funding for awards, conferences and the like. And time is running out for so many species...

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