George Mason University

News at Mason

Professor Lovejoy Honored by World Wildlife Fund

June 13, 2013

By Tara Laskowski

Thomas Lovejoy

Thomas Lovejoy

Thomas Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, was awarded the 2013 World Wildlife Fund Leaders for a Living Planet Award this week at a ceremony at the 2013 WWF Annual Conference at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.

The award recognizes environmental leadership and outstanding and inspirational work in conservation.

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-1960s, 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 he was a pioneer in educating the public about 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 exchange for investments in conservation. Debt-for-nature swaps are now among the largest sources of financing to support international environmental projects.

In 2012, he was awarded the 21st annual Blue Planet Prize, the international environmental award sponsored by the Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan. In 2011, along with other environmentalists, he was awarded the first Joao Pedro Cardoso Medal of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for his work worldwide in conservation and environmental policy.

More information about the WWF Awards and other winners can be found on the web site.

Thomas Lovejoy (center) accepts his award at the World Wildlife Fund awards dinner this week. Photo courtesy of WWF.

Thomas Lovejoy accepts his award at the World Wildlife Fund awards dinner from Jim Leape, WWF International director general, and Yolanda Kakabadse, WWF International president. Photo courtesy of WWF