Global Vision Awards 2007
Winner: Ecological Conservation
Four Great Rivers Nature Reserve, Tibet
The Tsanpo River, in Tibet's Four Great Rivers Nature Reserve.
In southeastern Tibet lies the world's deepest gorge, its highest forest, and four river valleys that provide fresh water for 20 percent of the earth's population, or one billion people. These valleys, part of the Four Great Rivers Nature Reserve, are also corridors for hundreds of exotic birds and plants, plus four species of great cats, including the snow leopard. Despite tremendous pressure from the growing Chinese population to harvest timber and build roads and towns, Tibet's autonomous government, along with the West Virginia–based nonprofit Future Generations, was able to secure protection for the region in 2002. Yet managing such a large area—the size of Washington State—would be impossible without a core of dedicated conservationists. To that end, Future Generations has trained 400 locals to be wardens of their own land, armed with an education in both community and environmental health. The implications of this program, a hybrid of conservation and development, reach far beyond the project's borders. The reserve contains one-seventh of China's carbon-trapping forests, making it a vital resource for, well, those future generations.
Our judge says: "Future Generations is one of the best-kept secrets in the world of development and conservation. Their work in Tibet—amidst the most difficult terrain on earth—is especially remarkable."—Bill McKibben
Visit the Global Vision Awards 2007 article.