Nearly 150 people gathered Sept. 15 at the Powerhouse Community Center in Del Mar to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nature and Culture International (NCI). The event also celebrated international conservation and honored NCI's founder and Del Mar resident Ivan Gayler with the inaugural E.O. Wilson Biodiversity award.
"I realized long ago that I could build another shopping center like the Del Mar Plaza but never in a million years could I create a songbird, a pink river dolphin or a blue morpho butterfly," Gayler said. "That has helped me to dedicate my time and resources to help conserve the variety of life on earth. To me the highest expression of life is the variety of life itself."
Having already helped to save 13 million acres in Latin America to date, NCI has its sights on preserving 20 million acres by 2020. Gayler, along with the other members of NCI's Board of Directors and supporters, now must focus on raising the necessary capital to continue and expand conservation work before the forest disappears forever. "We have a moral obligation to continue the good work we are doing not for ourselves but for future generations and the health of the planet," Gayler said.
NCI is a conservation nonprofit aimed at helping local and indigenous people preserve rain forests and other endangered ecosystems throughout Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico. The majority of NCI employees are local Latin American conservationists who work closely with local communities and local governments. More information about NCI can be found at natureandculture.org.