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NRDC BioGems Activists Win Goldman Environmental Prize

SAN FRANCISCO (April 22, 2007) — A Canadian activist working with her people in Poplar River First Nation and a Peruvian activist fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation from the devastating effects of logging and mining are among the winners of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Both activists work in regions that NRDC has identified as BioGems – unspoiled wildlands in the Americas threatened by development.

“NRDC is honored to be working with communities such as Poplar River First Nation, as represented by Sophia Rabliauskas, and with indigenous leaders such as Julio Cusurichi,” said NRDC President Frances Beinecke. “Working closely with local partners such as Sophia and Julio and their communities is an essential part of the NRDC Biogems effort.”

Sophia Rabliauskas succeeded in securing interim protection for a portion of the boreal forest [of Manitoba, effectively preventing destructive logging and hydro-power development in one of the largest intact forest ecosystems left on earth, while calling on government and international agencies to permanently protect the region.

“Sophia and her community are working to protect the heart of the boreal forest,’ said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director NRDC Canada BioGems. “Sophia and her people have given their whole hearts to protect these habitats and wetlands for the health of their community.”

Julio Cusurichi Palacios working with the Native Federation of Madre de Dios (FENAMAD), in the Peruvian Amazon, secured a national reserve to protect both sensitive rain forest ecosystems and the rights of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation from the devastating effects of logging and mining.

”Julio Cusurichi and FENAMAD have courageously fought to protect some of the most vulnerable indigenous people on the planet, who otherwise would have no voice in decisions taken about their land,” said Ari Hershowitz, Director of NRDC’s Latin American BioGems project.

The $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize, now in its 18th year, is awarded annually to six grassroots environmental heroes and is the largest award of its kind in the world. The winners will be awarded the Prize at an invitation-only ceremony Monday, April 23, 2007 at 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House and will also be honored at a smaller ceremony on Wednesday, April 25 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, DC. Other 2007 prize-winners include Willie Corduff (Ireland), Orri Vigfusson (Iceland), Hammerskjoeld Simwinga (Zambia), and Ts. Munkhbayar (Mongolia). 

ATTENTION EDITORS: Detailed biographical information and photographs of all winners are available at www.goldmanprize.org/2007media. Also available are broadcast-quality video and audio of the winners in their home countries. Additional information about the Prize and previous winners is at www.goldmanprize.org.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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