Equator Prize 2004 Finalists
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After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative's Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 26 finalist initiatives, from a total pool of 342 nominations from 66 nations.

Representatives of each of the 26 finalist communities have been invited to attend the 7 th Conference of Parties (COP7) to the Convention on Biological Diversity and to participate in the "Community Kampung", to be held in Kuala Lumpur in February 2004. The "Community Kampung" will be a venue for learning and dialogue between communities and serve as a home-space for community delegates to this high profile international meeting on the future of the world's shared biological heritage. The Awards Ceremony for the Equator Prize 2004 will take place in Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday 19 February 2004.

2004 Finalists: Community Stories


ITOH Community Graziers Common Initiative Group - CAMEROON

Guassa-Menz Natural Resource Management Initiative - ETHIOPIA

Pastoralist Integrated Support Programme (PISP) - KENYA

Torra Conservancy - NAMIBIA

Ekuri Initiative - NIGERIA

Ecole Instrument de Paix-Niger - NIGER

Rufiji Environment Management Project (REMP-MUMARU) - TANZANIA +

Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) - UGANDA

Chibememe Earth Healing Association (CHIEHA) - ZIMBABWE


Genetic Resource, Energy, Ecology and Nutrition (GREEN) Foundation - INDIA

Ngata Toro Community - INDONESIA

Bunaken National Park Management Advisory Board (BNPMAB) and Bunaken Concerned Citizen's Forum (FMPTNB) - INDONESIA

MESCOT (Batu Puteh Community of Lower Kinabatangan) - MALAYSIA

Conservation Melanesia - PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Kalinga Mission for Indigenous Children and Youth Development, Inc. (KAMICYDI) - PHILIPPINES

Rush and Reed Conservation and Diversification Program of the Podujana Himikam Kamituwa (Committee for People's Rights) - SRI LANKA

Pred Nai Community Forestry Group - THAILAND


Capitan¡a del Alto y Bajo Izozog (CABI) - BOLIVIA

Sociedade Civil Mamirau - BRAZIL +

Red de Mujeres Productoras y Comercializadores de Plantas Medicinales y Aromatics (Quidb†) - COLOMBIA

Proyecto Nasa - COLOMBIA

Fundaci†n Pro Reserva Forestal Monte Alto - COSTA RICA

Junta de Manejo Participativo Pesquero de Puerto Cayo - ECUADOR

Asociaci†n de Trabajadores Aut†nomos San Rafael - Tres Cruces - Yurac Rumi (ASARATY) - ECUADOR +

Garifuna Emergency Committee - HONDURAS

Comunidad Indigena de Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro - MEXICO

+ Indicates an initiative working near, or in conjunction with, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a candidate for a special Equator Prize dedicated to poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation in these critical areas.


ITOH Community Graziers Common Initiative Group
This multi-faceted NGO was founded in response to a 1992 ban on farming and grazing in the high-altitude Kilum Mountain Forest. Facing limited access to resources, 60 community members from two ethnic groups banded together to protect their watershed and bring a constant supply of water to their community. They have also replanted 30,000 trees to restore the watershed and promote beekeeping as a means of increasing local incomes.

Guassa-Menz Natural Resource Management Initiative
The Guassa-Menz region of the Ethiopian highlands is an Afroalpine ecosystem harboring a rich variety of endemic species and a centuries-old land tenure system known as Qero. By promoting Qero, this initiative ensures that resources are equitably shared by the region's eight farmers' associations. By harvesting grasses and grazing according to the rotational precepts of Qero, the entire region has managed to minimize the risks associated with recurring drought.

Pastoralist Integrated Support Programme (PISP)
This remote initiative works in some of the driest and, seemingly, most inhospitable habitat on Earth. Yet, they have had great success in reducing the vulnerability of nomadic communities through the restoration of highly flexible, traditional water management systems. PISP works with over 11,000 pastoral people to strengthen community water harvesting and seeks to protect dryland biodiversity from over-grazing through the strategic management of herd movements around vulnerable water points.

Torra Conservancy
Torra Conservancy is responsible for sustainable management of 352,000 hectares of land in the Kunene region of northwest Namibia. Since 1996, Torra has established sustainable hunting and ecotourism activities that have earned significant profits for the entire community. Together with the private sector, they have also founded Damaraland Camp, a luxury tented lodge that is fully staffed by conservancy residents and has injected 1.6 million Namibian dollars into the community economy.

Ekuri Initiative
The Ekuri Initiative was founded in 1992 by two villages in the buffer zone of Cross River National Park. This dynamic group works to promote community forestry and sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products from communally owned forestlands. Revenue from the sale of these products has enabled the Ekuri people to build a low-impact road connecting them directly to the closest market, thereby increasing household incomes and eliminating costly middlemen.

Ecole Instrument de Paix-Niger
This creative NGO, founded by three villages living near the Niger River, employs an innovative strategy to turn the environmentally destructive water hyacinth into an opportunity for local people. Using the impacts of this invasive species as the central theme for environmental education and development activities, the organization works to improve incomes and food security through the manufacture and sale of hyacinth compost, woven products and cooking briquettes.

Rufiji Environment Management Project (REMP-MUMARU) +
Since 1998, REMP has promoted wise use and conservation of the forests, woodlands and wetlands of the Rufiji delta and floodplain. Several of the villages with which the group works are adjacent to the Selous Game Reserve - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Working with district authorities, communities, and other stakeholders, REMP has developed environmental management plans at district and village levels. This work has gone hand in hand with awareness raising and the training of communities in sustainable fisheries and beekeeping and in tree propagation and planting.

Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED)
Founded in 1992, KAFRED works to protect the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, located adjacent to Uganda's Kibale National Park. Recognizing that the wetland serves as a vital corridor for animals migrating between zones of the park, KAFRED's founders have capitalized on both the conservation and ecotourism potential of their home. By creating a wetlands walk, marketing crafts, and engaging in sustainable agriculture, they have raised money to undertake critical education and health-care work.

Chibememe Earth Healing Association (CHIEHA)
The forests of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park serve as the inspiration for CHIEHA's wide-ranging efforts to promote sustainable livelihoods and the conservation of local biodiversity. The association's extensive conservation efforts involve reforestation, watershed protection, and the conservation of traditional crops and seeds. At the same time, incomes have risen through the marketing of sustainable non-timber forest products, such as fruit-juice and honey.


Genetic Resource, Energy, Ecology and Nutrition (GREEN) Foundation
Since 1992, GREEN has harnessed traditional knowledge of agricultural practices and biodiversity to create innovative seed and gene banks in the state of Karnataka. Working with a network of women farmers, they have improved food security through creation of a community seed supply system and through establishment of home gardens. To date, they have established 31 seed banks and have increased the number of farmers conserving indigenous seeds from 10 to over 1,500.

Ngata Toro Community
This forest community has revitalized traditional laws and institutions to support sustainable resource use in 18,000 hectares of Lore Lindu National Park. They have boosted incomes through activities such as the sustainable harvesting of forest products, low-impact agriculture, and ecotourism. Much of their great success results from the fact that their rights, knowledge and customary laws are recognized by the Park Authority and have been incorporated into the park's management strategy.

Bunaken National Park Mananagement Advisory Board (BNPMAB) and Bunaken Concerned Citizen's Forum (FMPTNB)
BNPMAB is multi-stakeholder initiative responsible for co-management and conservation of a globally significant marine protected area in North Sulawesi. A key feature of the Board's success is the participation of the Bunaken Concerned Citizen's Forum (FMPTNB), which holds one-third of all Board seats. The Board not only returns 30% of all entrance fees to local communities, but also ensures that their knowledge informs all aspects of park management.

MESCOT (Batu Puteh Community of Lower Kinabatangan)
The Batu Puteh community has developed a creative solution to the loss of access to traditional resources resulting from the creation of Sabah's Supu Forest Reserve and Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. Since 2000, the NGO they created - MESCOT - has operated a series of successful ecotourism ventures including a home-stay program, boat and guide service, and handicraft production scheme. Their efforts have also restored over 50 hectares of forest in important freshwater swamps.

Conservation Melanesia
Conservation Melanesia and the indigenous Maisin people share a vision for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on Maisin ancestral lands. Critically, in 2002, Conservation Melanesia successfully concluded a three-year battle to gain legal recognition of Maisin authority over their traditional territory. To ensure that the Maisin have a long-term future in their homeland, the two groups work to promote economic development through the production and sale of sustainable tapa cloth.

Kalinga Mission for Indigenous Children and Youth Development (KAMICYDI)
KAMICYDI's vision for a culturally and ecologically sustainable future for the Kalinga indigenous people uses traditional techniques to counter the impacts of poverty and environmental degradation. KAMICYDI has revived indigenous and sustainable agricultural methods to improve the management of forests, watersheds, and rice fields and promotes partnerships between the Kalinga people, local government and NGOs to ensure that their experiences inform policy and benefit other communities.   

Rush and Reed Conservation and Diversification Program of the Podujana Himikam Kamituwa (Committee for People's Rights)
The Rush and Reed Conservation and Diversification Program was launched to restore the ties between rural life and rice cultivation in Sri Lanka. The Program seeks to rehabilitate the ecological processes within rice paddy fields through the revival of traditional methods of rush and reed cultivation and conservation. Since 1999, several hundred villagers have been trained in sustainable rush and reed agriculture and in income-generating craft production.

Pred Nai Community Forestry Group
This unique organization was formed in 1986 in response to the destruction of one of Thailand's last remaining mangrove ecosystems and the associated degradation of local fisheries due to unsustainable shrimp farming and logging. Over a 4,800-hectare area, they have developed a sustainable system for managing mangroves and marine resources that involves communities, government, and religious leaders. Villagers have benefited through increased productivity of crab harvests and creation of a Village Saving Fund.


Capitanía del Alto y Bajo Izozog (CABI)
This grassroots indigenous organization represents 10,000 members of Bolivia's Izoceño-Guaraní people, living in 23 communities along the Parapetí River in the nation's Gran Choco region. The group has been instrumental in achieving recognition of land ownership rights for indigenous people throughout Bolivia. In 1995, CABI achieved a tremendous victory for local people when it helped to create the 3.4 million-hectare Kaa-Iha del Gran Choco National Park and Integrated Management Area.

Sociedade Civil Mamirauá +
This innovative NGO has pioneered the creation of Sustainable Development Reserves (SDRs) in Brazil. Currently, the group manages two SDRs located within the Central Amazon Conservation Complex - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since 1992, they have worked with communities, scientists, and state governments to ensure a sustainable future for both local livelihoods and the living resources of the Amazon rainforest upon which local communities depend.

Red de Mujeres Productoras y Comercializadores de Plantas Medicinales y Aromaticás (Quidbó)
Facing the loss of biodiversity in the Choco region of Colombia, six Afro-Colombian women first launched this home-grown initiative in 1996 to encourage the sustainable collection and processing of medicinal plants and herbs. Now a network of 85 local women, the group produces a range of organically certified medicinal and culinary herbs. The group's unique product line, TANÁ-CONDIMENTOS ORGÁNICOS, has met with remarkable success through sales in larger supermarket chains.

Proyecto Nasa
This community of Colombia's indigenous Paez people sustainably manages a territory of 49,000 hectares, partially located within the Nevada del Huila Biosphere Reserve. Since 1980 they have worked to incorporate holistic strategies for natural and cultural preservation into daily life. To promote the health of the community and their natural environment, the project has promoted environmental education and the adoption of traditional medicinal and agroforestry techniques.

Fundación Pro Reserva Forestal Monte Alto
Established by members of Hojancha community, this unique local foundation promotes environmental conservation and fosters sustainable livelihoods. Since 1992, the foundation has worked with local communities to develop enterprises that serve to protect the natural environment while generating revenue. The organization has also strategically purchased a patchwork of land parcels to sustain a vital watershed and protect delicate ecosystem services from the effects of agricultural encroachment.

Junta de Manejo Participativo Pesquero de Puerto Cayo
For 25 years, the community of Puerto Cayo has worked to limit the exploitation of coastal resources, particularly shrimp. Recognizing the importance of a healthy environment to the sustainability of local livelihoods, they have worked with local government to protect marine species, especially in their juvenile phases, and are now engaged in a system of community-based enforcement to prevent exploitation of the fragile coastline.

Asociación de Trabajadores Autónomos San Rafael - Tres Cruces - Yurac Rumi (ASARATY) +
Since 1999, the indigenous and campesino communities that comprise ASARATY have taken on the responsible management of 8,000-hectares of páramos, the montane grassland ecosystem of the Andes. To counter the degradation of habitat adjacent to Sangay National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage site - ASARATY has developed a unique participatory planning process to sustainably raise Alpacas, market products from Alpaca wool, increase food security, and develop an income-generating ecotourism venture.

Garifuna Emergency Committee
This NGO, based on the northern coast of Honduras, was initially formed to assist Afro-indigenous Garifuna communities recover from the effects of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. This highly dynamic group is now dedicated to protecting the ancestral lands and culture of the Garifuna by resisting encroachment, reducing poverty and malnutrition through the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, providing training in sustainable craft production, and conducting intensive reforestation projects

Comunidad Indigena de Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro
This innovative indigenous community collectively owns 11,000 hectares of forest in the richly biodiverse state of Michoacán. For over twenty years, the community has maintained successful eco-enterprises based on sustainable forestry, the creation of eco-friendly timber products, ecotourism, agroforestry and wildlife management. These enterprises have provided a boost to local incomes while ensuring that the resource base upon which the community depends is sustained for future generations.