By: ambraeditor On: December 23, 2019 In: News Comments: 0

We’re so grateful to all of our supporters for enabling each of our funds to support the best environmental initiatives in their locations. This year we gave the network that joins our funds dotted across the world a name: the Conservation Collective. In this, our second ever newsletter, we would like to honour the executive directors. They are the beating hearts of each fund. They oversee all aspects of the organisations from fund raising, to developing and recommending grants.

They nurture local champions, who have a deep passion to protect their home and the flora and fauna it possesses. They meet community members committed to finding solutions to restoring their natural heritage which has often been threatened or destroyed by tourism and development. They brainstorm ways to solve problems at a grassroots level by supporting local programmes and initiatives, and where these solutions don’t exist, building them with a trusted partner.

Fair to say they not only represent a group of individuals and businesses who want to protect their place, but they are also the driving force for our work. Read on to get to know them!

Happy Christmas!

Having grown up in Sri Lanka and travelled extensively within the country from a young age, I have a deep appreciation for my island home. It is this appreciation and understanding that motivated me to work within the conservation field and to contribute towards the preservation and re-wilding of the island’s ecosystems and biodiversity. My role with the Lanka Environment Fund, allows me to fulfil my aspirations and to work towards ensuring that future generations of Sri Lankans become environmental stewards of our island’s precious ecosystems.

Vinod Malwatte
Executive Director

Having led the IPF for 7 years now, I feel immensely proud of the progress we’ve made. It hasn’t always been easy, and we’ve still got a lot to do. Creating alliances of various stakeholders (local government, business associations and NGOs), has been so far the best strategy for us to move ahead, in areas such as fighting against oil drilling, promoting sustainable water management or promoting a single use plastic free island. The sustainability challenges that Ibiza and Formentera face need engagement and leadership across the sectors of society, social, public and private, local and international. It is our mission and privilege to build the bridges between them and connect the dots towards true sustainability.

Sandra Benbeniste
Executive Director

My personal connection with the Aeolian Islands and my love for its land and its sea has deep roots. It was here that I learned to scuba dive, discovering the extent of the beauty hidden beneath the surface of the sea. In 15 years, however, the underwater world I loved so dearly has deteriorated rapidly marine life is increasingly less rich. Unfortunately, it is becoming ever more common to see turtles and cetaceans in difficulty due to marine pollution and human carelessness. The AIPF already invested a large part of its efforts to remove the illegal fishing gear and ghost nets from the sea, involving local divers and fishermen to contribute in protecting marine life. Today I believe in the power of working together as a team and as a family of funds, to sensitise the children who will soon be adults, and with the generous support of all of those different people who, without asking anything in return, believe and invest on a better future for the islands.

Ambra Messina
Executive Director

The environment is the foundation of all the health and well being of the island of Barbados. I am very excited to help work with the various groups on the island support their tremendous work for the preservation and enhancement of the island’s natural beauty.

Tamaisha Eytle
Executive Director

Working for the Menorca Preservation Fund has given me the opportunity to work alongside some amazing people and organisations while looking for the best and most significant ways we can have a positive impact on our local environment. For me, having grown up here and spending many years away travelling as a humanitarian aid worker, being able to come back home and settle on this beautiful island while playing an active role in its preservation, is a dream come true. I genuinely believe that we are now an essential part of the movement in Menorca working together towards a more sustainable way of life and this is something very exciting to be a part of. To date we have funded projects ranging from essential research into fish species vulnerable to fishing, improving rain water catchment facilities on working farms to reducing the use of single-use plastics – to the point that using biodegradable alternatives to plastic bags has become a pre-requisite to having a stand in one of our local fish markets and supporting the better management of a newly declared marine protected area.

Rebecca Morris
Executive Director

I feel truly privileged to work close with passionate local champions in the Cyclades and dedicated experts from all over the world, network and learn from each other, but mainly plant together seeds that will grow into a wonderful, common vision and a collaborative roadmap of sustainability for our islands. I am now convinced that despite the challenges, people do have the power to bring the change, even if it sometimes takes time. On the other hand, we usually have to wait for that which is worth waiting for, don’t we?

Anni Mitropoulou
Executive Director

One is so lucky to have grown up on an island like Corfu (as myself) and the other Ionian Islands. The mere beauty of these islands makes one appreciate life. The nature here is so rich and diverse, that one may not need much more to be happy. Nowadays most of us have drifted away from the old patterns that had people live -more or less- in harmony with their natural environment. Consequently, we do not treat our home places all that well. While we do not have illusions about difficulties and the magnitude of the challenges, with the IEF we choose to go ahead and change things. We are only starting and small, but we are aiming high. The response of local people and of other environmental organisations has been delightfully encouraging so far. Now we are ready and cannot wait for a year that will be impactful, hopeful and effective for the long-term benefit of the Ionian Islands and their people.

Costas Kaloudis
Executive Director

My dream is that by supporting strategic projects towards environment conservation, the Mallorca Preservation Fund contributes to the nature-based solutions to tackle Climate Change. Due to the important role played by the soil, wetlands, or the ocean as carbon dioxide sinks, we strongly believe that improving land management and conserving and restoring these essential ecosystems, nature itself will be the best allied to mitigate climate change and to face the adaptation to this new reality.

Ana Riera
Executive Director

Growing up on the Grenadine island of Bequia, living on the sea shore I developed a deep connection to the ocean and all its creatures as well as to the connected island landscapes and hillsides. I have seen the beauty of our natural world in these small islands diminish over the years as the islands grapple with development. I see the deep connection that our ancestors had with nature diminishing and the social fabric of society being negatively affected as a result, Heading up the SVGEF allows me to help steer these vulnerable islands in the direction of conservation and sustainable development, always operating in a manner that empowers Vincentians to be the best possible custodians of our beautiful archipelagic state.

Louise Mitchell
Executive Director 

Events scheduled so far for 2020 include:

  • Barbados Environmental Conservation Trust drinks, Tuesday 28th January, 5 Hertford Street, London.
  • An introduction to the Ionian Environment Foundation, hosted by the Thinking Traveller, Tuesday 3rd March

Please email jade@conservation-collective.org to RSVP, or to find out more about our locally based and London events.