Redlands, California—Charles Convis, director of the Esri Conservation Program (ECP), received the Distinguished Landscape Practitioner Award from the Society for Landscape Ecologists. Convis was recognized for nearly three decades of mentoring ecologists to use geographic information system (GIS) technology for species and ecosystem conservation.
As a computer-savvy ecologist in the mid-1980s, Convis supported many conservation projects in Africa and southeast Asia. During that time, he noticed that the common need of field biologists in those regions was good maps. After pitching the concept of a GIS conservation support group to Esri president Jack Dangermond in 1989, Convis joined Esri and immediately established the ECP. Since then, the ECP has provided products, training, and mentorship around the globe.
The Society for Landscape Ecologists recognized Convis for his emphasis on community building and cultivating human conservation networks.
"What I learned from government-based technology aid was that the use of hardware and software alone almost never makes a local conservation organization successful," says Convis. "To deepen the root systems of these projects, technology must be accompanied by mentorship in equal measure."
During his 27 years of conservation work at Esri, Convis found that conservationists were the least able of all Esri’s product users to afford trips to conservation events and grow peer communities. To remedy that, Convis started the first conservation GIS group in 1991, which later grew into the Society for Conservation GIS. The society offers conservationists discounts and free attendance to Esri annual conferences so that they can connect with peers, germinate ideas, and extend the reach of conservation GIS.
"Charles Convis and the ECP have made a significant difference in providing the technical tools, data, training, and community to practice landscape ecology," says Peter August, Society for Landscape Ecologists. "They are a most deserving recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Landscape Practitioner Award."
To learn more about how ECP is helping global conservation, visit conservationgis.org.