Peace Parks Foundation receives ESRI Presidential Award

Peace Parks Foundation of South Africa was presented with the prestigious Presidential Award in front of 13,000 attendees of the 2004 ESRI International User Conference. Professor van Riet, Chief Executive Officer, accepted the award from ESRI president Jack Dangermond for his lifelong use of GIS in conservation as well as his leadership in the Foundation’s GIS. The organization was selected for its pioneering work in establishing transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), also known as peace parks, which are large tracks of protected areas spanning international boundaries. The purpose of these parks is to employ conservation as a land-use option to the benefit of local people.

“Professor van Riet and others involved in Peace Parks Foundation make a difference,” says ESRI president Jack Dangermond. “They’re a pioneering spirit forging international cooperation that’s resulting in areas across borders where wildlife roam freely. They’ve used GIS not only to help spark the adoption of the original peace parks concept, but for maintaining existing parks and promoting the concept to other countries.”

“I’d like to thank ESRI and Jack Dangermond for this prestigious award,” says Professor van Riet, Chief Executive Officer of Peace Parks Foundation. “GIS has helped fulfil the vision of peace parks because of its ability to visualize information and to provide a common language through geography. We use it to make decisions and to assist government officials from various countries, conservationists, and others to make more informed decisions. ESRI has honoured our organization.”

Dr Anton Rupert, Dr Nelson Mandela, and HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands founded Peace Parks Foundation in 1997 to facilitate the establishment of TFCAs. Prof. Van Riet, who had been involved with GIS in southern Africa since the early 1970’s, initiated the Foundation’s GIS laboratory when he was appointed as CEO in 2000. Since that time he has used the technology to advocate the idea of peace parks to senior-level public officials and others.

The Presidential Award is presented as a special recognition by ESRI Jack Dangermond to an organization that is a model for others to follow in implementing GIS successfully, as well as making a positive impact on the environment and society. Previous winners include the United States Department of Interior, the City of New York, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and the Hong Kong Information Center (LIC)



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