Nigel Dudley and Sue Stolton 2011 – United Kingdom
Nobody knows better the benefits that national parks and other protected areas bring to people and nature than Sue Stolton and Nigel Dudley, and no one has worked harder to bring this knowledge to bear in saving the world’s natural wealth.
Nigel and Sue are both members of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and work as independent consultants on projects all over the world. The duo have played an instrumental role in highlighting how important protected areas are to people—not least how they contribute to healthy lifestyles, poverty alleviation, food production and clean water supplies.
Healthy parks, healthy people
They have produced clear and accessible publications, tools and manuals for conservation practitioners and provide new approaches to understanding the benefits protected areas offer in supporting local communities and economies. Implementing these approaches—translating international and national policy into action at the ground level—is a key part of their work.
The focus of attention on protected areas has long been on identifying new sites or areas to fill gaps in key landscapes, and to meet the internationally-set target of 17% coverage of the land area. There is still a long way to go to meet these targets in many countries, and particularly in marine areas, and there are also wide concerns about the amount of attention being paid to looking after these areas once designated.
Recognized for their work on the effective management and governance of protected areas, the two renowned conservationists led the revision and implementation of the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories, which classify protected areas according to their management objectives. Their contribution to WWF's innovative publication series Arguments for Protection has significantly increased understanding and awareness of the benefits of protected areas by governments and communities around the world. And for many years, Sue and Nigel have focused their work on the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas. This provides a globally-accepted framework for creating comprehensive, effectively managed and sustainably funded protected area systems around the globe.
Spreading the word
By demonstrating the importance of protected areas to global priorities such as adapting to climate change or halting biodiversity loss, they have helped to build the case for protected area conservation among a far wider international constituency.
A proportion of the work carried out by Sue and Nigel is unpaid and from their own resources. They do this because of their commitment to improve the benefits of protected areas and in the belief that active networks of experts, of which they are a part and play a leadership role, can make a real difference to action on the ground.
Sue and Nigel work at all levels, from advising international environmental conventions and governments to working with local conservationists on field projects. They live in Bristol and West Wales, and when at home take great pleasure in walking in the mountains of Snowdonia.
Last month Nigel and Sue were joint recipients of the WCPA’s prestigious Kenton Miller Award for ‘outstanding innovation in making sustainable the world’s national parks and protected areas’.