2008 Whitley Award winner, Marleny Rosales-Meda was recently honoured in the US for her commitment to conserving priority species and ecosystems across the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

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Bryan Arroyo, Director of the Division of International Affairs of the U.S. Fish & Widlife Service, gives the 2015 Conservation Hero Award to Marleny Rosales-Meda and Maria Susana Hermes in Washington DC. Photo credits: © OAS

Guatemalan biologists, Marleny and Maria Susana Hermes Calderon both received the prestigious “2015 Central America Conservation Hero Award” in front of government authorities and renowned scientists during the First Anniversary celebrations of the Alliance for Conservation Mesoamerica 2020 on September 21st 2015 in Washington DC.

This alliance is a collaboration between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which presented the award in special recognition of Marleny and Maria’s long-term commitment and outstanding achievements for endangered wildlife conservation.

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Marleny Rosales-Meda´s speech during the Award Ceremony and Anniversary of the Mesoamerica 2020 Initiative in Washington DC.
Photo credits: © USFWS

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Biologists Marleny Rosales-Meda and Maria Susana Hermes with Dr. Daniel Ashe (General Director USFWS) and Dr. Thomas Lovejoy (renowned scientist of United Nations Foundation) during the Award Ceremony in the Hall of the Heros of the OAS, Washington DC. Photo credits: © USFWS

Both Marleny and Maria are experts in conservation and wildlife management and have devoted their lives to nature conservation and community well-being in north-western Guatemala. Their work started in 2002 carrying out ethno-biological research projects about endangered wildlife and subsistence hunting in the Ramsar Wetland Ecoregion Lachua in Alta Verapaz. The experience of living and working with Maya-Q´eqchi´ communities changed their lives and inspired them to take on a more active role as conservationists. As a result, they designed environmental education and community wildlife management programmes based on the needs and values of the local community. Their work is characterized by its pioneering, participative and holistic conservation approach that links scientific knowledge and ancestral wisdom in an effective and respectful manner.

In 2010, they founded the Organization for Nature Conservation and Community Development (ORCONDECO) which focuses on strengthening and broadening the impact of their conservation and sustainable livelihood programmes to benefit further rural and indigenous communities in Guatemala.