St Andrews student wins international prize

Sunday 16 May 2004

A 25-year old St Andrews student has won an international environmental prize for his conservation work amongst a remote tribe in the Amazon rainforest.

Conrad Feather – a PhD in Social Anthropology – was announ

ced as winner of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment last Friday (14th May 2004).

Feather has been working for four years with the Nahua people of Peru – who have only had contact with the outside world since the 1980s. Living amongst them and becoming almost fluent in their language, he is helping them to protect their traditional tribal territory and livelihood, and to save the area from the incursions of illegal mahogany loggers.

Though the Prize is based in St Andrews, judges didn’t know that Feather, a Cambridge graduate from North London, was a student here until a few weeks ago.

Brian Lang, Principal of the University and one of the Trustees, said:

‘The identities and nationalities of the entrants are withheld from us throughout the judging process – only the projects are evaluated. So it was a complete surprise to me. In the circumstances, though, I felt I should withdraw from the final round of the judging process this week. I’m delighted by the result – Conrad Feather is an extraordinary young man.’

Feather’s project has enabled the Nahua to map and signpost their territory using the latest GPS, photographic, radio and video equipment. This will document the cultural significance of the area to the tribe and become a powerful tool to help the tribe monitor their territory and protect it from loggers and others.

Conrad said: ‘Because of the growing pressures from illegal activities, this is the only way that the Nahua people’s territory – and of course, the biodiversity of the region – can effectively be protected.’

Sir Crispin Tickell, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said:

‘This is a first class project. As well as saving the rainforest, the project has done remarkable work for the indigenous communities living there and has potential application in other parts of the world.’

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is worth $30,000 and is a joint international initiative of the University of St Andrews and the energy company ConocoPhillips. It is judged by a board of Trustees from three important constituencies: science and academia to assess and evaluate ideas, industry to look at the economics and the practicality of these ideas, and government to consider their political feasibility. Of the three finalists this year, two were British (for the first time in the Prize’s history), and one was Italian. The two runners-up were awarded $5,000 each.


Notes to Editors

Now in its sixth year, the St Andrews Prize for the Environment aims to encourage innovative projects worldwide by providing seed money for good ideas, as well as providing ongoing connections and support.

The two other finalists for the 2004 Prize were:

· Simon Pugh-Jones and the Writhlington School and Sikkim Schools ex-situ Orchid Conservation Project, which aims to help stop the indiscriminate harvesting of India’s wild orchids in a collaborative ‘farming’ initiative in which a school in Somerset germinates orchid seedlings for replantation in Sikkim

· Professor Mario Malinconico from Naples, Italy, who has been developing organic polymers – ‘natural’ plastics that can be used in agricultural practices such as mulching and protected cultivation, and which can be tilled back into the soil after use.

The St Andrews Prize board of trustees, chaired by Sir Crispin Tickell, former Convener of the British Government’s Panel on Sustainable Development, include: Prof. Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency; Julia Marton-Lefevre, Executive Director of Leadership for Environment and Development International; Sara Parkin, Director of Forum for the Future; Dr Alun Anderson, Editor in Chief of The New Scientist; James Currie, Consultant in EU and US Public Affairs; Archie Dunham, Chairman of ConocoPhillips Inc; Keith Henry Group Executive Vice President and Chief Executive of Kvaerner Engineering and Construction plc.; The Rt. Hon. Lord Jenkin of Roding, Chairman of the Foundation for Science and Technology; Richard Sandbrook, Senior Adviser to the International Institute for Environment and Development (representing HRH the Prince of Wales); Sir Neil Chalmers, Director of the Natural History Museum; Prof. Howard Dalton, Chief Scientific Advisor, DEFRA; Henry McGee, Regional President, Europe and Africa, ConocoPhillips; Jonathan Startup, Director Sustainable Development, DTI; Dr Kjetil Stuland, President of the Rogoland Research Institute, Stavanger; and Dr Brian Lang, Principal of the University of St Andrews. Previous winners of The St Andrews Prize for the Environment include: Bunker Roy from Rajasthan (2003); Dr Monina Escalada from the Philippines (2002); George Odera Outa from Kenya (2001); Prof. Hikmat Hilal and Dr Amer El-Hamouz from Palestine (2000), and Daniel Limpitlaw from Johannesburg (1999).

Logos and photographs of the winner and finalists are available from Colman Getty PR. Contact Laura Bonney at Colman Getty Scotland T: 0131 477 7950 or Georgina Langdale at Colman Getty T: 0207 631 2666

Further information about the prize is available at

For further information contact:

Rebecca Salt, Colman Getty Scotland PR Tel: 0131 477 7950/mobile 07970 783 213 Email: [email protected]


Georgina Langdale, Colman Getty PR Tel: 0207 631 2666 Fax: 0207 631 2699 Email: [email protected]

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