Dr. Rebecca Cliffe is one of the winners of the Future For Nature Award 2022!
The Future For Nature Foundation (FFN) supports promising young conservationists committed to protecting animals and plants in the wild. Each year the FFN Foundation chooses several candidates from a new generation of nature conservationists who are making a difference for the future of our natural world.
This year three leaders in the field of nature conservation, selected from more than 250 candidates, are the proud recipients of the 2022 FFN award: Tiasa Adhya from India, Gabriel Massocato from Brazil, and Rebecca Cliffe from Costa Rica. Each winner of this prestigious nature conservation prize receives 50,000 euros for their conservation projects.
“The more I travel around the world, the more horrors I’m shown. But I have these reasons for hope. Which is the amazing human brain, the extraordinary resilience of nature and the indomitably human spirit, the people who tackle what seems hopeless and they won’t give up and they will succeed.”
–Dr. Jane Goodall, member of the FFN Board of Recommendation
Why we applied for this award
A big problem for sloth conservation is a lack of information about the status, distribution, and decline of wild populations, primarily because sloths are so difficult to visually detect. There are no official population counts and population trends are unknown.
We want to solve this problem by training the first-ever sloth Scat Detection Dog. As sloths only defecate on the ground, this dog would help us locate their feces for genetic analysis, allowing us to accurately measure sloth populations in defined areas.
With this information, we can start to understand what is happening to sloth populations in different regions. We will know what conservation strategies are effective and we can work with the IUCN Specialist Group to assess the true conservation status of the six extant species.
Another major problem facing sloths is urbanization and human encroachment. People in poverty-stricken areas do not have the luxury of saving wildlife at the cost of their own opportunities, and we must find ways for humans and sloths to coexist.
How we’ll use the prize
The Sloth Conservation Foundation will use the award to start the Scat Detection Dog program, which will allow us to assess sloth populations in different regions and improve our targeted conservation strategies.
We will also use the award to create the first “Wildlife Safe Zones”. These areas will provide safe places for sloths to be reintroduced following rescue without moving individuals too far from their location of genetic origin, as well as provide models for sustainable human-wildlife coexistence.
We will work with local authorities, businesses, and landowners to provide infrastructure for insulated power lines, speed limits, wildlife bridges, and sterilization for local dogs. We also fund education for local schoolchildren that shows the value of wildlife conservation, economic opportunities associated with a healthy ecosystem, and the preservation of Costa Rica’s national icon.