Guinea Bissau: Ms Augusta Henriques, winner of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award
The Ramsar Award for Management is given to Ms Augusta Henriques for her central role in the foundation of the NGO Tiniguena (“This Land is Ours”) in 1991 and for her long-term leadership and work with communities towards the creation of a Community Marine Protected Area at Urok Islands – the first marine protected area recognized by the Government of Guinea-Bissau.
In the Bijagós Archipelago, Ms Henriques created this community marine protected area, comprised of mangroves and tidal flats and home to many bird and other species, among them marine turtles and manatees. Ms Henriques has carried out exemplary and innovative work with local communities to maintain the local culture and allow it to evolve, and at the same time to ensure sustainable livelihoods. The system of community management promoted by Ms Henriques and Tiniguena has in particular enabled the replenishment of the fish stocks. She has been very attentive to the involvement of all stakeholders at of all levels of society, including women and youth. Dialogue between all villages of the archipelago is one of the keys to the success of Ms Henriques, as it has helped the local community members to reach a common understanding of the rules for access and use of the area and its resources. Central to Ms Henriques’ work is the importance of empowerment of the local populations in the management of their natural resources, the successful inclusion of government institutions, exchanges with similar projects in the region and fundraising with international institutions.
Ms Henriques has put Ramsar principles at the heart of her work and has collaborated with the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Guinea-Bissau. In her country and in the region, she has been working in partnership with some of the Convention’s IOPs and other international organisations such as IUCN, Wetlands International, WWF, and the Banc d’Arguin Foundation (FIBA). She has played an important role in establishing a network of marine protected areas in West Africa, and in a programme for coastal and marine areas conservation. Her innovative approach, intelligence, tireless effort and her dedication make Ms Henriques one of the major figures of environmental conservation in Guinea-Bissau and in West Africa.