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2019 Award Recipients
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These awards honor outstanding contributions to advancing the field of ecological restoration and recognize individuals and organizations for their excellence in restoration science, practice, and public engagement. Awards winners are either selected by the Awards Committee after community nomination, or selected by the Restoration Ecology editors for their publications in that journal. SER's 2019 awards showcase the range and scope of restoration work happening around the world.


The John Rieger Award honors those who have dedicated their time and skills to advancing ecological restoration through the development of SER. This year’s award went to Dr. Tein McDonald for her long and distinguished service to SER and her many contributions to the field throughout this time. Her work in developing SER-Australasia and the SER International Standards have expanded SER’s leadership role in the field of restoration both regionally and globally. Additionally, Tein serves as Editor-In-Chief of Ecological Restoration and Management and is a founding member of the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators. She has devoted countless hours to increasing the breadth and scope of SER’s impact on the science and practice of restoration including through her work mentoring practitioners and indigenous land management groups. Tein is also a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner and has served on the Standards Committee for the CERP program.

The Theodore M. Sperry Award honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to advancing the science or techniques used in restoration practice. This year’s award was presented to Dr. Samira Omar for her innovative work on arid land restoration in Kuwait. Her work includes the development of new methods for post-war restoration and initiatives to raise awareness of ecological restoration throughout the Middle East region. Samira has also been influential in advancing the science of restoration through her work in translating SER’s International Standards into Arabic and helping to lead the development of the new thematic series Restoration Ecology-Arid Lands.
FULL CIRCLE AWARD - Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation-Mawas Conservation Program

The Full Circle Award recognizes restoration projects that incorporate traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in significant ways and reflect a balance between indigenous and non-indigenous knowledge and practices. This year’s award went to the Mawas Conservation Program of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, a group that takes a holistic and inclusive approach to facilitating the recovery of topical peatland ecosystems, including critical orangutan habitat. BOSF-Mawas works closely and collaboratively with a large number of indigenous and non-indigenous communities to implement integrated solutions that incorporate local knowledge, establish sustainable livelihood options, and treat the root causes of degradation by promoting a shift in the local perceptions of nature.
COMMUNICATION AWARD - Lina Dolores Pohl and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources

The Communication Award recognizes individuals that have made a significant impact in advancing the theory, practice, or public awareness of restoration through innovative communication strategies. This year, SER recognized the outstanding effort of Lina Pohl, former Environment Minister of El Salvador, and the El Salvador Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) for their leadership in getting the United Nations to declare 2021-2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Their significant work in engaging governments and stakeholders through multiple communication strategies has brought restoration to the forefront of global attention and is a giant step forward for the field of ecological restoration. (Photo via LEDSLAC)


Dr. Tony Rebelo of the South African National Biodiversity Institute has worked successfully towards the restoration of the unique Cape Flats Sand Fynbos habitat and its critically endangered plant species at Tokei Park. His program uses a noteworthy application of holistic and structured restoration methods including the baseline assessment of seed banks and species’ gaps, benchmarking with reference data, management of invasive species, re-introduction of missing species, and ongoing monitoring. Additionally, the program receives active participation from the local community members, facilitating ecological awareness and stakeholder commitment. (Photo via SANBI)


Lily Tanui has made outstanding contributions towards ecological restoration in Kenya through the founding of the Tree Growers Association of Kenya. The organization plants trees in a variety of public places and promotes alternative energy sources for cooking to reduce forest degradation from firewood collection. Lily and her organization perform public outreach to create awareness of ecological restoration and include youth in their initiatives. Their pioneering effort has the potential to motivate youth to engage in the field of restoration and addresses challenges across Africa and beyond. (Photo via Tree Growers Association of Kenya)


SER presents the Bradshaw Medal to two outstanding papers published in its peer-reviewed journal, Restoration Ecology. Named for famed British ecologist and restoration pioneer Tony Bradshaw, the award honors scientific papers that advance the field of restoration ecology in a significant way. The recognized studies were:

Urban habitat restoration provides a human health benefit through microbiome rewilding: the Microbiome Rewilding Hypothesis
JG Mills, P Weinstein, NJC Gellie, LS Weyrich, AJ Lowe, and MF Breed

Conceptualizing ecological restoration: a concise and adaptable framework for researchers and practitioners
LB Perkins and A.J. Leffler