Protecting chimpanzees wins St Andrews Prize

Thursday 23 April 2015

(L to R) Christophe Boesch, David Chenier, Principal Louise Richardson, Lord Alec Broers

A multi-level conservation project, which aims to protect the largest remaining population of wild CHIMPANZEES on the Foutah Djallon-Bafing River (FDBR) region in Guinea, West Africa has won this year’s St Andrews Prize for the Environment.

Great apes, especially Western African chimpanzees are severely threatened. The confirmation of a 4,700 strong population of chimpanzees in Guinea represents a unique opportunity to contribute to the survival of this largest-known and non-fragmented chimpanzee population in West Africa.

Threatened by agriculture, logging and poaching, an integrated landscape conservation project was initiated with the full support and collaboration of the Guinea Ministry of the Environment. The aim is to preserve the chimpanzees and their habitat through a participatory process including local populations and Guinean State services in an area of roughly 8,000 square kilometres of semi-mountainous, moderately anthropised and relatively well preserved landscapes.

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is an environmental initiative by the University of St Andrews and independent exploration and production company ConocoPhillips. The 2015 Prize attracted more than 400 entries from around the world.

At a ceremony at the University of St Andrews today, Christophe Boesch from the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) was presented with the winning prize of $100,000 USD.

“Considering the fate of the chimpanzees throughout West Africa, this funding from the St Andrews Prize for the Environment will directly contribute to make a signal that chimpanzee conservation can work and at the same time profit the human population,” he said.

Professor Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews said, “There are few issues of greater importance than the impact of climate change on our fragile environment and on some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Here at St Andrews we are committed to playing our part in addressing environmental challenges.

“Locally we are determined to be the first university in the UK to become carbon neutral for energy. Nationally our ground-breaking research in green energy and environmental protection is having a tangible impact on public policy. Internationally, the St Andrews Prize for the Environment is setting a new standard for environmental prizes.

“The 2015 Prize winner, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation announced today, is an outstanding example of a transformative idea whose realisation we will follow with great interest. We are proud to be partners in such an inspirational programme, which supports creative and innovative projects that help to protect vulnerable communities from the ravages of environmental change.”

Lord Alec Broers, Chairman of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment Trustees said, “The Prize seeks to reward those who propose novel ways to preserve the environment and biodiversity with projects having the potential for broader application.”

David Chenier, President, UK for ConocoPhillips said, “By sponsoring the St Andrews Prize for the Environment, ConocoPhillips is creating a path to a more secure and environmentally conscious energy supply for future generations. This forum lets us recognise groups and individuals with innovative environmental ideas and gives us the opportunity to focus on developing and sustaining their life changing projects.”

Two runners-up were each presented with a cheque for $25,000. They were Net-Works: From fishing nets to carpet tiles, the Philippines and The Ripple Effect: An integrated approach to conservation in Malawi.

Noes to news editors

Full details on each of the finalists’ projects can be found at

Photos are available. Contact Communications Office.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 467310 or [email protected].

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