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Arturo Gómez-Pompa: 1934—: Ethnobotanist, Educator, Advisor/Consultant

Advised Governments

Gómez-Pompa served as governmental consultant in his homeland and in the United States. After the election of Carlos Salinas de Gortari to Mexico's presidency in 1988, Gómez-Pompa critiqued and realigned governmental policies that threatened the environment. Because of his intervention, in 1989 the government halted the damming of the Usumacinta River, which flows northwest from the Sierra Madre de Guatemala into southeastern Mexico. The intent was to preserve the river's economic significance to watering the Lacandan Rain Forest, the wetlands home of the endangered ocelots, jaguars, crocodiles, howler and spider monkeys, toucans, and tropical songbirds. The shift in policy also assured the future of logging, chicle production, shrimping and fishing, and transportation and communication. Conservancy created a protective district for the porpoise and sheltered ancient Mayan civilization centers, where ecological evidence gives glimpses of home gardening in the times of prehistory.

In 1991 Gómez-Pompa served the U. S. Congress on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In 1992 he and his colleagues assisted the Mexican government in launching a pilot plan to stop deforestation and loss of biodiversity in the country's rain forest. Four years later, the new Mexican administration initiated long-term tropical forest protection and relief of poverty among forest dwellers. He formed Programa de Accion Tropical Forestal A. C. (PROAFT A. C.), which coordinates funding from national and global sources and developed PACT-Mexico, a sustainable plan of usage and development for economically depressed areas of the tropics. He stressed local input and the promotion of natural resources to lift the standard of living for residents. The combined efforts made forest dwellers beneficiaries of conservation and new products, and taught them cultivation and management alternatives to deforestation. Of these achievements, Thomas E. Lovejoy, an environmental-ist with the Smithsonian Institution, has called GómezPompa one of the world's top botanists, conservationists, and preservers of tropical forests. French oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau lauded GómezPompa's scholarship and diplomatic skills, which have enabled him to succeed at pragmatic resource management.

Gomez-Pompa established FUNDAREB A. C., a government bureau that creates ecological reserves privately owned by farmers, corporations and investors, and research institutes. He set the example of ecological stewardship by pledging his own funds and contributions from others to found El Edén ecological reserve, where he studies and nurtures flora. He chaired UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere program, which allied 411 biospheres in 94 countries, and served on the boards of the Nature Conservancy, INBIO of Costa Rica, the World Wildlife Fund, the National Council of Sciences, the National Institutes for the Environment, Smithsonian Institution, PRONATURA, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In 1998, at the University of California Riverside (UCR) Lowland Maya Initiative, he delivered a speech, "From Pre-Hispanic to Future Conservation Alternatives: Lessons from Mexico," as an element of the theme Plants and Population: Is There Time? In March of 2000 he was influential in halting Mitsubishi's plans for the $100 million San Ignacio Lagoon Saltworks, which threatened El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, a breeding ground for gray whales and a United Nations World Heritage Site. In May of 2000 he participated in Genetic Resources for the New Century, a symposium sponsored by the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to SewArturo Gómez-Pompa: 1934—: Ethnobotanist, Educator, Advisor/Consultant Biography - Developed Interest In Ecology, Founded Institute, Advised Governments, Rewards And Challenges