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July 2016 e-Newsletter
In This Issue: Honduras' Irma Brady wins 2016 Seacology PrizeWorld's first mangrove museum to open in Sri LankaTravel: Cocos Island, Costa RicaIsland Update releasedJoin us on Instagram

Irma Brady of Honduras wins Seacology Prize


Environmental defender Irma Brady of Roatán Island in Honduras is the 2016 Seacology Prize winner, chosen by the Seacology Board of Directors.

Over the past two decades Roatán, the largest of Honduras' Bay Islands, has experienced an unprecedented boom in tourism, and today it is a popular destination for large cruise ships, scuba divers, and other visitors. While the development has provided economic benefits for many of  Roatán's people, it has also threatened the island's sensitive Caribbean ecosystems. Slash-and-burn agriculture on the island has led to massive loss of forest, air quality problems, and coastal runoff. Brady, a lifelong resident of the islands, became increasingly concerned about these growing threats and took action. In 1992, she founded the Bay Islands Conservation Association, a grassroots NGO designed to promote the sustainable use of the island's resources, monitor environmental impacts, and ensure that development doesn't come at the cost of irreplaceable habitats. BICA has grown in scope and influence over the years, and now has chapters on both Utila and Guanaja, Roatán's neighboring islands. It also manages the Sandy Bay West End Marine Reserve, the site of our most recent project in Honduras.

 
Serving as a field evaluator, Brady has long worked with the local and national Ministry of Environment to certify proposed development projects on Roatán as sustainable before they are approved. She has helped save Roatán's remaining coral reefs (above), mangroves, and other critical coastal environments from poorly designed developments. Her role has often brought her into conflict with developers and politicians, but her tenacity, knowledge of the issues, and broad community support have repeatedly won out and helped foster a culture of sustainability on the Bay Islands. Her other projects include the Port Royal Wildlife Refuge, a terrestrial wildlife preserve and the Carambola Botanical Garden, which offers free tours to local children to build appreciation for Roatán's unique flora.

It's not lost on us that Brady hails from Honduras, a country in which environmental activists have faced enormous risks in pursuing their convictions. Earlier this year Berta Cáceres, a longtime campaigner against environmental destruction and for indigenous rights and winner of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, was killed in her home. The tragic act is widely suspected to have been a politically motivated assassination. Four months later another activist, Lesbia Yaneth Urquía, met the same fate after years of activism against the destructive hydroelectric project Cáceres had opposed. These high-profile crimes highlight the particular threats faced by activists in Honduras, which leads the world in violence against environmentalists, political dissidents, and others. In recognizing Brady, we hope to draw greater attention to the plight of those who take grave risks to stand by their principles and bravely speak up for their homelands and communities.

We invite you to join us for the Seacology Prize Ceremony on Thursday, October 6th to honor Brady's conservation successes and learn more about this inspiring leader. As always, the ceremony is free of charge and open to the public. If you'd like to attend, we request that you RSVP here so we can plan catering and other services accordingly. We look forward to seeing you there!

World's first mangrove museum to open July 26

In less than two weeks, Seacology and our partners in Sri Lanka will celebrate World Mangrove Day with the official opening of the Seacology-Sudeesa Mangrove Museum. Construction of this state-of-the-art facility is a key accomplishment of the first year of the Sri Lanka Mangrove Conservation Project, our first nationwide initiative.

The museum, adjacent to the headquarters of our partner NGO Sudeesa and surrounded by lush coastal foliage, will serve as a hub for environmental education for locals and tourists alike. We expect about 20,000 Sri Lankan schoolchildren to visit annually to learn about the unique role that mangroves play in a healthy environment, and the importance of protecting them. Even before its official opening, the museum and surrounding grounds, which include a demonstration mangrove nursery, have become a popular field trip destination.

This tangible success is due in large part to the support of those who participated in our recent campaign to finish the museum's funding by June 30. Each generous supporter who contributed $500 or more will be honored on a plaque to be unveiled at the opening ceremony.

For a sneak peek inside the nearly complete museum, watch Sudeesa's latest video update, and stay tuned for next month's e-newsletter for a recap of the opening ceremony.

Seacology Travel: Cocos Island, Costa Rica

May 30–June 10, 2017
Join Seacology and Undersea Hunter for a week of diving at one of the world’s premiere underwater destinations. Once called “the most beautiful island in the world” by Jacques Cousteau, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Costa Rican national park is world-renowned for its stunning big-critter diving. Scuba Diving Magazine called Cocos one of the world’s top five destinations for advanced divers. Read more in our travel brochure.
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Island Update released

The Spring/Summer edition of Island Update, our biannual print newsletter for Seacology donors, is now available to all in PDF form on our website.

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Seacology works in some stunning places across the globe—and we've been combing our archives to find some of the best shots from our projects. Check them out at Seacology's new Instagram account, and follow us for exclusive looks at our current projects.
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