Thomas Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, was awarded the 21st annual Blue Planet Prize, the international environmental award sponsored by the Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan.
The Blue Planet prizes are awarded to individuals or organizations each year that make outstanding achievements in scientific research and its application in helping to solve global environmental problems. Lovejoy accepted the award during a press conference in Rio on June 17, and will receive a prize of 50 million Yen (approximately $626,000).
He received the award for pioneering work in biodiversity science and conservation, including how human-caused habitat fragmentation causes biodiversity loss.
"It's a pleasure to join in congratulating both our esteemed faculty member and the commitments to biodiversity which he so ably represents," says Peter Stearns, Provost of George Mason University. "His work is a central part of our larger educational and research program on sustainability."
Lovejoy's career spans multiple decades and includes many creative and important contributions to research on the severe impact of land use on biodiversity and ecosystems. He began his career in the mid-60s, researching ecosystems in the Amazon rainforest. This led to the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, the largest long-term experiment in the history of landscape ecology. Now in its 33rd year, the project was responsible for showing that fragmentation of animal habitats is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, along with climate change.
Lovejoy was one of the first to point out that the Amazon rainforest was in crisis and was a pioneer in educating the public of this problem. His work in policy included the first published projection of global extinction rates.
Lovejoy also developed "debt-for-nature swaps," in which a portion of a nation's foreign debt is forgiven in e
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George Mason University