TIES Announces the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree, Dr. David Western

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TIES Announces the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree, Dr. David Western
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Dr. David Western, 2012 TIES Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Dr. David WesternTIES Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the distinguished achievements of those who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to promoting ecotourism and responsible travel; supported the goals of sustainable community development and biodiversity conservation; and inspired positive changes in the tourism industry. This year, TIES board of directors voted unanimously to honor Dr. David Western, the founder and chairman of the African Conservation Center (Nairobi, Kenya), and the founding president of The International Ecotourism Society (then The Ecotourism Society - TES).

 

Former director of Kenya Wildlife Services, Dr. Western began research into savannas ecosystems at Amboseli in 1967, looking at the interactions of humans and wildlife. His work, unbroken since then, has served as a barometer of changes in the savannas and test of conservation solutions based on the continued coexistence of people and wildlife. Dr. Western has directed Wildlife Conservation Society programs internationally, established Kenya's Wildlife Planning Unit and chaired the African Elephant and Rhino Specialist Group.

 

Dr. Western's publications include Conservation for the Twenty-first Century (Oxford University Press, 1989), Natural Connections: Perspectives in Community-based Conservation (Island Press, 1994) and In the Dust of Kilimanjaro (Shearwater, 2001). He is currently conducting a study on climate change in the Kenya-Tanzania borderlands in collaboration with University of California San Diego, University of York, Missouri Botanical Gardens and African Conservation Center.

 

Award Presentation Ceremony at the ESTC12

The 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented during the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2012 (ESTC12) in Monterey, California, USA. Following the announcement and a presentation by TIES founder Megan Epler Wood, Judy Kepher-Gona from Kenya accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Western, who could not join us in Monterey but joined the ceremony from thousands of miles away through a live video call.

 

Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation

Dr. Kelly Bricker, TIES Chair; Judy Kepher-Gona, CEO, Basecamp Foundation (receiving the award on behalf of Dr. Western); and Megan Epler Wood, TIES Founder and Co-Executive Director of Planeterra Foundation

 

Tribute to Dr. David Western by Megan Epler Wood

Dr. David Western, known as Jonah, grew up in Tanzania and traveled with the Masai as a child, giving him a life long understanding of the link between local traditional practices and the conservation of ecosystems.

 

He has never lost his vision that the conservation of African parks and wildlife needs to lie in local hands and has advocated parks beyond parks and community based conservation from the earliest days of his career.

 

As the founder of the Amboseli Conservation Program in 1967, he brought a ground breaking ecosystem management approach to the table that made the Masai an equal partner. Though this plan was not fully followed, he has continued to keep his eye fixed on creating community conservation strategies.

 

In the 1970s, Western became the leader of a policy initiative for Amboseli where he made a strong economic case for tourism as a vital generator of revenue for the park, and was one of the first advocates of community based tourism as a key link to park conservation strategies.

 

In 1990, a young nature filmmaker, Megan Epler Wood, discovered that Dr. Western was probably the first and foremost thinker in the world linking conservation and sustainable development strategies to tourism. Her documentary about the newly named ecotourism phenomenon, produced for the National Audubon Society's television series in the US, allowed her to approach Western and make him a primary spokesperson on camera for the wise and ecological management of tourism in parks. While filming together in Kenya, he agreed to become the first President of The International Ecotourism Society, a brain child Epler Wood proposed to him during production.

 

Western convened the first TIES board meeting in 1991 with experts from around the world, who together gave ecotourism the most widely used definition that crisply linked tourism to conservation and local well-being. And in 1998, when he was Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, he held an international conference in Kenya together with TIES to study how tourism management in collaboration with local communities in Kenya leads to sustainable development results, using field visits throughout the country to allow international experts to observe and take note.

 

Jonah Western's support for The International Ecotourism Society at its earliest hour made it the first organization in the world to make a consistent case for ecotourism as a legitimate and valid tool for sustainable development at a time when many experts were doubtful. His steady hand allowed a whole field of study, research and practise to emerge which continues to grow and expand today.

 

 

 

 

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