8th World Wilderness Congress begins next month

08/01/05

Congress releases more news angles for reporters

August 1, 2005 (Washington, DC) The 8th World Wilderness Congress (WWC), convening from September 30 October 6, 2005 at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, is a public forum expected to attract more than 1,000 conservationists and experts from 55 countries. Reporters are welcome to attend.

The Congress has already issued three news releases detailing expected news highlights, available at http://www.8wwc.org/press.htm.

Previously unannounced highlights include:

AMERICAN WILDLANDS PHILANTHROPY

In a bygone era, many of America's most prominent families, such as the Rockefellers, Mellons and McCormicks, used their wealth to help create public natural areas. That tradition of privately funded parks and wilderness areas largely fell out of fashion until recently. Today, many private American philanthropists are buying private lands for conservation.

Multiple generations of Rockefellers, for example, have been instrumental in creating some of America's most beloved national parks including Great Smoky Mountains and Virgin Islands, and expanding others, such as Grand Teton and Acadia. David Rockefeller, Jr., the former national vice chair of the Alaska Conservation Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the Alaskan natural environment and its native cultures, is continuing his family's legacy.

A relative newcomer to the scene is Doug Tompkins, who co-founded the fashion giant Esprit. Mr. Tompkins has helped preserve more than two million acres of land in South America, and plans to transfer his 750,000-acre Pumalin Parque to the people of Chile, which would become one of that nation's most spectacular national parks.

Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Tompkins will both be in Anchorage to discuss their roles in the re-emerging wildlands philanthropy boom.

THE FIRST MEGA-FLYOVER

Dr. Michael Fay, who gained international renown for his 1999 trek through Central Africa, will offer the first report on his latest expedition by light aircraft across the entire African continent.

His recently completed aerial survey from Johannesburg, South Africa through close to 50 countries and ending in northern Africa covered 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers). From his vintage 1960's-era Cessna, Fay snapped digital photos every 20 seconds. He landed in places rarely seen by humans, and his survey will help set conservation priorities for decades to come.

Dr. Fay will issue his first public report about his Mega-Flyover at the WWC.

CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHY

One hundred of the world's most well-known conservation photographers will gather for a session called "Images with Passion and Purpose." Part of the WWC's focus on "Art and Advocacy," the program will focus on current conservation photography projects underway in Alaska and the rest of the world, as well as on historical achievements. The session will be held from October 2 - 6, 2005.

CONSERVATION WRITERS RENDEZVOUS

Writers have strongly influenced our views on nature, preservation and wilderness. From John Muir to Rachel Carson, writers have impacted America's relationship to nature and helped preserve the natural world. For three afternoons, thirty established and new writers from around the world will share their experiences and future plans.

Previously announced highlights include:

INDIGENOUS GROUPS

The 8th WWC will, for the first time ever, bring together as many as 30 indigenous groups from the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Asia and Africa. These groups will share their experiences protecting their lands and traditional livelihoods, and will form a Native Lands and Wilderness Council, the first of its kind.

NEW WILDERNESS AREAS

At least two significant announcements are expected to be made at the Congress regarding the creation of new wilderness areas. Although more than 100,000 protected areas and/or wilderness areas already exist globally, this unprecedented announcement may spark an entirely new way of protecting land in the Americas. The announcements, which have a strong Texas and Latin American angle, will be made on Saturday, October 1.

GUEST SPEAKERS

More than 50 high-profile and senior-level political and corporate speakers are expected to attend the Congress, half of whom are from developing nations.

Speakers include: leaders and representatives of indigenous and tribal communities from close to 30 nations on six continents; David Rockefeller Jr.; Governor Walter Hickel; Len Good, CEO, The Global Environmental Facility; David Quammen, author; Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, Deh Cho Nation, Canada; Dr. Michael Fay, Wildlife Conservation Society; Dale Bosworth, Chief, USDA Forest Service; Dr. Willem van Reit, President, Peace Parks Foundation, South Africa; Bittu Sahgal, President, Sanctuary Asia; and Dr. Sylvia Earle, Executive Director, Marine Conservation, Conservation International.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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