The Whitley Award (WA) is one of the most prestigious conservation prizes known in the world today, established in 1993, and the award was to recognize and celebrate leaders who were effectively conserving nature regionally and globally. Edward John Whitley, the founder, was a financial advisor who founded Whitley Asset management, a privately owned financial advisory firm. His philanthropic call turned him into an environmentalist when he formed the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN). The Fund was established to support financially the local conservationists work around the world. In 1994 the first ever Whitley Award, worth GBP 15,000, was given for a conservationist’s efforts to protect endangered Seahorse, in what was known as Project Seahorse in the Philippines.
History Of The Awards
Since 1993, when WNF was founded, the Fund has attracted many donors, both individual and charitable trusts, to support the efforts. As of 2017, the Fund has been able to distribute over GBP 1 millon a year in various conservation projects. As an outstanding fund, Whitley Fund for Nature has Sir David Attenborough as one of its trustees. Attenborough is one of the most celebrated British broadcasters and conservation documentary producers whose contribution to conservation has been honored by naming 15 species and genera after him. WFN has Her Highness the Princess of Royal as the patron.
The Whitley Awards
The Whitley Awards ceremonies are hosted by the patron of WFN, Her Highness the Princess Royal annually at the scholarly Royal Geographical Society. By 2017 the Whitley awards, also known as "Green Oscars", which started off with only GBP 15,000, way back in 1994, had reached GBP 35,000, making it one of the most high-profile conservation prizes. The awards particularly recognize work done outside the developed world, and the aim is to bring international attention to individual works on the ground committed to long-lasting conservation benefits mainly in the developing world. The first ever Whitley Award went to Dr. Amanda Vincent, a Canadian-born marine biologist based at Oxford University for her extensive study of biology and conservation of seahorses. According to data posted on Whitley Award website, the award enabled Dr. Amanda to set up a new marine reserve and survey the state of seahorses across south-east Asia, giving a new lifeline to this magnificent and endangered marine species. The purpose of the Award was to achieve a long-lasting impact on outstanding conservation advocates for diversity with a passion for spreading the message to a wider audience. The Whitley Gold Award is given to the previous year Whitely Award winner and the funding is at the tune of up to GBP 50,000 in project funding over a year. Ecosystems are prone to environmental changes, to mitigate for these dynamics, the Whitley-Segre Conservation Fund (WSCF) which is a one-year funding program was set up. The Fund was another of the key funds to offer further support to previous year award winners to further their projects in tackling environmental dynamics and guarantee lasting change for endangered species in developing the world.
Whitley Fund for Nature has had a direct impact on the ground as funds go to projects that are already in progress and have shown the tangible result. For the last 23 years, Whitley Awards program has supported over 190 conservation leaders in more than 80 countries. These conservation leaders have had a positive impact on the terrestrial environment, coastal and marine areas as well as in wetlands and freshwater ecosystems. Endangered species have been saved, the man-animal conflict has been mitigated in places, and more importantly, conservation leaders are optimistic that their efforts will be successful.