on 25th June, 2005 Whitley Award winner Gonzalo Merediz-Alonso and his NGO, Amigos de Sian Ka’an (ASK) was awarded the prestigious Miguel Alemán Valdés 2014 Ecology and Environment Award by the Miguel Alemán Foundation (FMA) in recognition of ASK’s outstanding achievements in environmental conservation and community empowerment. Dr Hector Dominguez, Director of the Ecology and Environment Program at FMA paid tribute to ASK’s work, stating that ASK has set a precedent for Mexico, being the first organisation to bring together conservationists, landowners, researchers, local communities and business entrepreneurs.
Since its foundation in 1986, ASK’s main objective has been to promote and support actions to preserve the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a 1.6 million acre site that is one of the largest protected areas in Mexico. Designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage and RAMSAR site, it has the most pristine wetlands in Mesoamerica and is also the setting of the ancient Mayan culture and twenty five Mayan ruins.
Over the past 28 years, ASK has expanded beyond Sian Ka’an to cover the entire Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It has run over 300 projects, all of which have worked towards creating new and sustainable economic opportunities for rural communities. It has also successfully established 15 Protected Areas covering more than 1.1m hectares of tropical forest, wetlands and marine ecosystems.