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UNEP’s 2011 Sasakawa Prize Winners Focus on Forest Conservation

23 February 2011: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced two projects aimed at conserving forests and promoting sustainable development in remote rural communities in Latin America and Asia, as the 2011 recipients of the Sasakawa Prize.

The 2011 theme of the Prize was “Forests for People and for Green Growth,” in support of the 2011 International Year of Forests, and highlighting the central role of forests in the pursuit of a global Green Economy. The co-winners are the "Asociación Forestal Integral San Andrés, Petén" (AFISAP) in Guatemala, and the Manahari Development Institute in Nepal (MDI-Nepal). The first is focused on preserving forests on a 52,000-hectare concession within the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, in the San Andres, and its activities play a critical role in regional conservation efforts.

The MDI-Nepal is using agroforestry to improve crop productivity and water irrigation systems, to reduce soil erosion on the forested hills and mountainous areas. According to UNEP, these measures have significantly improved food security and living standards of the rural communities living on the steep slopes of Nepal, with MDI-Nepal and the indigenous community delivering economic and social benefits to more than 2,000 households by improving the productivity of marginal lands with the planting of fruit crops.

The US$200,000 cash prize is awarded annually to a grassroots organization judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to the protection and management of the environment and to social development. In 2011, the jury paid particular attention to projects that: promote the conservation and sustainable management of forests; contribute to a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions caused by deforestation or forest degradation; maintain forest ecosystems to improve resilience to climate change; support development among forest-dependent communities; and conserve biodiversity and help protect ecosystems in forests. [Sasakawa Prize Website] [UNEP Press Release]