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Brazilian conservationist honored as & #8216; Hero of the Cerrado & #8211; Biodiversity Hotspot & #8217; by the Partnership Fund for Critical Ecosystems

Damião M. Santos is being recognized for his achievements in the protection of species and ecosystems in the Cerrado

by Julie Shaw, via Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund


In the week we celebrate the World Environment Day (05/06), the Partnership Fund for Critical Ecosystems (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund) of hot spot biodiversity expert announces that Damião M. Santos and nine other conservationists from around the world have been named & #8220; Heroes of the Hotspots& #8220; for its efforts to protect places considered for their high biodiversity in the world. The honorees were chosen from among hundreds of civil society organizations that received donations from CEPF in the 10 priority hotspots global biodiversity where the fund currently operates and the announcement was made on the International Biodiversity Day, celebrated on May 22nd.

CEPF is recognizing these heroes as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. The fund trains non-governmental organizations, indigenous groups, universities and private companies to protect priority hotspots of biodiversity & #8211; the most diverse land regions in the world, but threatened & #8211; and help communities to prosper. O CEPF it does this through subsidies and technical support for conservation, organizational strengthening and sustainable development.

Damião (right) and colleagues studying the implementation of tourist activities on the Paranã River. Photo: © Quilombo Kalunga Association / AQK Collection

The Heroes of Hotspots and the non-governmental organizations for which they work are making extraordinary contributions to conservation. They are examples of dedicated and dynamic people who work to ensure that intact ecosystems can continue to support flora and fauna and provide clean air, fresh water, healthy soils, sustainable livelihoods, resistance to climate change and more.

Damião Santos is a member of the community quilombola Kalunga, which is considered the largest in Brazil and is located in the northwest of the state of Goiás in the municipalities of Cavalcante, Monte Alegre and Teresina de Goiás, part of hot spot of Cerrado biodiversity. He is helping to lead conservation efforts in the community. He headed the forest fire fighting brigade from 2013 to 2018, and was treasurer of the Kalunga Association of Guides from 2011 to 2014.

Under his guidance as president of the Kalunga Engenho II Communication Association from 2015 to 2017, ecotourism efforts have taken major steps, including the construction of trails and bathrooms for tourists, gastronomy courses for restaurant employees, training for guides and expansion of the center assistance to tourists.

& #8220; Damião Santos combines strength, determination, devotion and kindness. He is actively involved in his community and fully committed to biodiversity conservation & #8221; said Peggy Poncelet, CEPF grants director for the biodiversity hotspot in the Cerrado.

Damião was actively involved in the project financed by CEPF, which used georeferencing and socioeconomic surveys to map the Kalunga territory. Collecting information was an arduous process in which Mr. Santos and other team members traveled long distances to visit families scattered throughout the region. The data proved to be highly valuable for the Kalunga people, as well as for local and federal public entities.

& #8220; The Heroes of Hotspots represent the conservationists tenacious and committed people who are acting every day to guarantee the future of priority hotspots biodiversity and the people who depend on these vital ecosystems & #8221 ;, said CEPF Executive Director Olivier Langrand. & #8220; They face a multitude of challenges & #8211; long hours, tiring travel, difficult working conditions, political obstacles and even threats to their lives & #8211; in search of a healthy and sustainable world & #8221 ;.

& #8220; Mr Santos is a determined advocate of his community and the ecosystems on which they depend & #8221; said Langrand. & #8220; Their actions and leadership are helping to ensure a healthy future for the Kalunga community and its nature & #8221 ;.

read more on Damião M. Santos and the others Heroes of Hotspots.

CEPF is a joint initiative of Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank.

Since 2001, CEPF has catalyzed biodiversity conservation, led locally through US$ 250 million in donations to more than 2,400 organizations in 98 developing and transition countries. The results include more than 15 million hectares of protected areas established, at least 890 species globally threatened supported and over 3,500 communities benefited. Learn more at www.cepf.net, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.



Michael Becker, leader of CEPF's regional implementation team at the Cerrado biodiversity hotspot, michael.becker@iieb.org.br

Julie Shaw, CEPF's communications director, jshaw@cepf.net

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of the French Development Agency, Conservation International, the European Union, Global Environmental Management, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. A key goal is to ensure that civil society is involved in biodiversity conservation.