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National Geographic Receives Conservation Award for BioBlitz

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar presents a Partners in Conservation Award to the National Geographic Society today for its work with the National Park Service to increase public understanding and engagement in science and science-based management in the national parks with “The BioBlitz.”

BioBlitz is generally a 24-hour event in which teams of scientists, volunteers, and community members join forces to observe, identify, and learn about as many plant and animal species as possible, the National Park Service said in a statement. Team members from the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service led the fourth annual BioBlitz this past April at Biscayne National Park in Florida. (Read blog posts about the BioBlitz.)

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Students help look for species during the 2010 BioBlitz organized by NPS and NGS in Biscayne National Park, Florida. A feature of the NPS/NGS bioblitzes is the involvement of students and other members of the surrounding community.

Photo by David Braun

“These awards recognize the dedicated efforts of more than 600 individuals and organizations from all walks of life, from across our nation–and from across our border with Canada and Mexico,” Salazar said in a prepared statement. “They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work ranging from preserving the birthplace of our first President, George Washington to battlefields, restoring watersheds and wetlands, protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species, to teaching conservation values to the next generation.”

John Francis, National Geographic’s Vice President for Research, Conservation, & Exploration, said: “The BioBlitz program in partnership with our great partners in the NPS opens doors and minds to the fantastic biodiversity in our own backyards. We hope to awaken, especially among those living in cities, the wonders of a healthy natural world so important to our well-being.”

Watch a video of John Francis explaining how bioblitzes build bridges.

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said: “The National Geographic Society is a great partner, an exceptional partner, as we connect people with the wonders of science discovery. I expect many of the young people who join a Bioblitz will grow up to be our next National Park Service scientists and park rangers.”

The BioBlitz partnership includes involvement by national park friends groups, private companies, state and local parks, universities, local school systems, and non-profit groups, NPS said. “Each National Geographic/National Park Service event has catalogued hundreds of previously unidentified species. Some species were not only new to parks, but were new to science altogether.”

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Jarvis said the BioBlitz also provided educational enrichment and tools for teachers and students, and engaged thousands of citizens who saw personally the importance of biodiversity.

“We present the U.S. Department of the Interior Partners in Conservation Award to the National Geographic Society for their extraordinary commitment and support for cataloging the biodiversity of national parks, for providing unique educational experiences for youth and the general public, and fostering greater understanding of science-based natural resource management,” Jarvis said.

“The awards also recognize that conservation achievements result from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector and nongovernmental organizations and federal, state, local, and tribal governments.”

The award was one of 24 national awards to individuals and organizations that Secretary Salazar said recognize excellence in achievement of natural resource conservation goals in collaboration and in partnership with others.

“The awards also recognize that conservation achievements result from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector and nongovernmental organizations and federal, state, local, and tribal governments,” NPs said in its statement.

“These 24 awards celebrate partnerships that conserve and restore our nation’s treasured landscapes and watersheds, partnerships that engage Native American communities and partnerships that engage youth,” Salazar said.

The next National Geographic/National Park Service BioBlitz will be held in Saguaro National Park, Arizona, October 21 and 22, 2011. You can read more about it here.

Posted by David Braun