California botanist named 2021 EO Wilson Biodiversity Award recipient – YubaNet
CLAREMONT, Calif .– A Conservation Botanist and Director of Conservation at the California Botanic Garden, Naomi Fraga, Ph.D., is the 2021 recipient of the Center for Biological Diversity’s annual EO Wilson Award for Outstanding Science in Biodiversity Conservation .
Fraga gained international notoriety for his advocacy for the rare plant Tiehm’s buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii), threatened with extinction by a lithium mine project. It is also engaged in the direct conservation, monitoring, and habitat restoration of over 30 other rare, threatened, and endangered plants in California and Nevada.
“We are delighted to present this award to Naomi Fraga for her tireless efforts to document, protect and restore rare plants,” said Kierán Suckling, Executive Director of the Center. “By taking a strong ethical stance on behalf of Tiehm’s buckwheat conservation, she has been at the forefront of the scientific community working to stop the plant extinction crisis.”
Fraga is professor of botany at Claremont Graduate University on a double term with the California Botanic Garden, where she obtained her doctorate. and MS She has over 20 years of botanical field experience, in addition to leading a conservation program that includes habitat restoration, invasive species treatment and species monitoring. She also oversees the world’s largest conservation collection of native California plant seeds at the California Seed Bank, with billions of seeds representing thousands of species preserved for future conservation activities.
The Center presents the EO Wilson Prize each year to a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to conservation. It is named after the famous scientist Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University, known as “the father of biodiversity”. Wilson’s career has focused on promoting a global understanding of the importance of biodiversity and the preservation of our biological heritage, and he is the world’s leading authority on ants.
“I congratulate Dr Fraga and express my gratitude for his heroic work to save rare plants and protect the diversity of Earth,” Wilson said. “His advocacy for plants, which are too often overlooked, is of the utmost importance in reducing the extinction crisis. “
Fraga’s advocacy for Tiehm’s buckwheat, as well as his work in monitoring and conserving other rare plants such as the endangered Amargosa niterwort (Nitrophila mohavensis), have been the subject of much attention, more recently with a profile in Wired and a story on the front page in the Los Angeles Times.
She received the 2019 US Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion Award for her work, which led to the recovery of the Hidden Lake bluecurls (Trichostema austromontanum ssp. compact). Earlier this year, she also received the 2021 Star Award from the Center for Plant Conservation.
Fraga has also made significant contributions to the literature on plant taxonomy, including a notable review of the taxonomy of monkey flowers recently published in the Flora of North America. His work has shed light on threats to many newly described species and informs plant conservation work in California and Nevada.
“I am deeply honored to accept this award named after one of my all-time conservation heroes,” said Fraga. “Working for plants is a path of gratitude. Rare plants like Tiehm’s buckwheat teach me resilience in the face of adversity. Through science and advocacy, I hope my work leads to protections that allow future generations to learn these same lessons. “
The prize consists of a cash prize and a handcrafted ant statue by artist Anne Bujold.
The previous six recipients of the award were ornithologist and poet J. Drew Lanham for his work to make conservation more inclusive; Rebecca Hernandez for the promotion of sustainable renewable energies; the late Lincoln Brower in defense of monarch butterflies; Aradhna Tripati for her pioneering research on climate change; Tyrone Hayes for the protection of people and wildlife from pesticides; and the late James Deacon for the protection of freshwater species.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with over 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places.