Lifetime Achievement: Jane Goodall
In 2010, Jane Goodall celebrated the 50th year of her career in pioneering research, conservation and inspiration. She was 26 years old in 1960 when she entered the forests of what is now Tanzania, on a mission to understand as no one before had how chimpanzees live in the wild. In the process, she discovered not only the details about the strange peculiarities of how one species lives on Earth, but she showed us how nearly human these creatures are. In so doing, she made us more humane: She has launched countless careers in science and conservation, especially of young women scientists, and she has inspired millions to support conservation of wild habitats, untrammeled ecosystems and endangered species.
Since the early 1990s, the Jane Goodall Institute has spearheaded the work of protecting chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, where she conducted her pioneering research. Its innovative programs include not just setting aside wild lands and patrolling for poachers, but building sustainable communities and strong local economies so that neighbors of the park support conservation as a core value. Some 150,000 members of her Roots & Shoots programs, in 120 countries, support Goodall in that mission.
A scientist, Goodall knows that protecting the diversity of life on Earth is a difficult task. It's been said that we're witnessing the sixth great extinction event in the planet's 4-billion-year history, only instead of natural cataclysm, this great shudder is being caused by humankind. Yet, as a person, Goodall knows that we, too, are the solution. She says, "It is easy to be overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness as we look around the world. We are losing species at a terrible rate, the balance of nature is disturbed, and we are destroying our beautiful planet. We have fear about water supplies, where future energy will come from and most recently the developed world has been mired in an economic crisis. But in spite of all this I do have hope. And my hope is based on four factors" the human brain, the human spirit, the resilience of nature and the determination of young people.
For giving us hope, and pointing the way toward a much greener future, we honor Jane Goodall with our 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
* Also a People's Choice Award Winner! *
See all the 2011 Heart of Green Award nomines for Lifetime Achievement.