Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of EO&Son and De Beers, and his wife Strilli Oppenheimer, were jointly presented with the prestigious World Wildlife Fund – Lonmin Award for environmental conservation, at a recent event held in Johannesburg.
The award recognizes those who promote a culture of sustainable use and conservation of South Africa’s natural heritage and is awarded by the WWF on recognition of an extraordinary commitment and contribution to the environment. The award was made for the Oppenheimers’ active and involved support of conservation projects aiming to foster the bio diversity of the county’s mammals, birds, invertebrates (insects), fish, reptiles, vegetation. On a wider level the conservation of parks, support for governments public parks, and the work in supporting community development, which benefits from much of the underlying academic and field work in specialist areas, was included in the citation.
The passion displayed in many fields for nature conservation by the Oppenheimer family, and in De Beers, resulted in one of the projects noted in the award; the establishment, last May, of the Diamond Birding Route on the many conservation areas surrounding De Beers mines and on Oppenheimer properties in South Africa. The Diamond Birding Route—a partnership between BirdLife South Africa, De Beers, and the Oppenheimer family company—serves as a collective and integrated project for all these unique and different birding conservation areas, dedicated to biodiversity conservation and ecotourism which help support the development of communities.
“The award recognizes those who promote a culture of sustainable use and conservation of our natural heritage,” said Rob Little chief executive officer of WWF South Africa. “It is awarded to individuals or organisations which make an outstanding contribution to conserving the environment. While many nominations are received every year, this award is only given when a deserving candidate has been identified.”
“In accepting this award I do need to admit that the passion and vision driving the multitude of academic, social and public participation projects underway owe their existence to Strilli, not I,” Nicky Oppenheimer said. “As a diamond man I am so pleased that in many of the projects again diamonds are demonstrating that they can contribute in new ways to development in Africa, beyond those examples associated with the purely traditional economic benefits. Conservation is as much about people as it is about conserving our heritage for generations to come.”
Strilli Oppenheimer added: “At last conservation of the environment which we have inherited as custodians is not a subject of only specialist and activist interest; rather it is an imperative for society as a whole to hand on a less distressed situation than that we have caused. There is a growing public awareness in appreciating what we have, and doing what we can together, to ensure we do not continue to loose species on a daily basis, as each lose impacts on everyone and everything in some way.”