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Celebrating CEPF's 2020 Hotspot Heroes

These 10 conservationists have dedicated their lives to protecting biodiversity

2021 Update
On 21 October, CEPF honored its 10 Hotspot Heroes during a virtual celebration. Watch the recording

In celebration of CEPF's 20th anniversary, we're recognizing 10 Hotspot Heroes, one for each biodiversity hotspot where we are currently investing. 

Since its inception, CEPF has awarded grants to more than 2,500 civil society organizations (CSOs)—from grassroots nonprofits and Indigenous peoples organizations to universities and small businesses. Behind each of these CSOs are scores of dedicated individuals doing the on-the-ground work. Choosing just 10 wasn't easy.

In certain ways, this year's Hotspot Heroes couldn't be more different from one another. Some committed themselves to conservation from childhood while others stumbled into the field. Some have decades of experience while others are at the beginning of their careers. Some have advanced degrees; others are self-taught.

What they all have in common are both their dedication and the significant results they have achieved. Each of our heroes demonstrates how much can be accomplished by ignoring the naysayers, persisting and believing in the ability to make change even when it seems impossible. We're honored to share their stories with you.

Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot

Ingrid Parchment, Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation
Galvanizing local, regional and international partners to protect a fragile island in Jamaica. Learn more


Cerrado Biodiversity Hotspot

Damião M. Santos, Associação Quilombo Kalunga
Using science to defend the ancestral land of the Kalunga in Brazil. Learn more


East Melanesian Islands Biodiversity Hotspot

Martika Tahi, Vanuatu Environmental Science Society
Visiting small, remote islands to teach local people about the value of the biodiversity found in their own backyard. Learn more


Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot

Leah Mwangi, Kijabe Environment Volunteers
Building an all-volunteer group in Kenya into an award-winning nonprofit. Learn more


Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot

Emmanuel G. Smith, The Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia
Helping remote, impoverished communities improve their lives while also protecting their forests. Learn more

Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot

Le Thi Trang, formerly of GreenViet
Energizing a community to protect a threatened monkey by resisting the lure of uncontrolled tourism. Learn more


Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot

Vikash Tatayah, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Playing the long game to restore the ecosystems of one of the planet's most degraded islands. Learn more


Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot

Awatef Abiadh, Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux/BirdLife France
Strengthening civil society in North Africa to ensure a solid foundation for conservation. Learn more


Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot

Olivio Bisbicus Pascal, Organización Unidad Indígena del Pueblo Awá
Leading the Awá people in their efforts to protect their land, their culture and their biodiversity amidst incredible threats. Learn more


Wallacea Biodiversity Hotspot

Deni Purwandana, Komodo Survival Program
Protecting one of the world's most maligned lizards through research, education and patience. Learn more



Photos: Ingrid Parchment. © Ingrid Parchment; Damião M. Santos. © Associação Quilombo Kalunga (AQK); Martika Tahi. © Vanuatu Environmental Science Society/Image by Oliva Joe; Leah Mwangi. Courtesy of KENVO; Emmanuel G. Smith. © Eugene Harvey/SCNL; Le Thi Trang. © GreenViet; Vikash Tatayah. © Vikash Tatayah; Awatef Abiadh. © Louis Marie Préau; Olivio Bisbicus. © Luis Fernando Gómez N./WWF Colombia; Deni Purwandana. © Nicolas Cegalebra