The National Geographic Society is proud to award the 2022 Hubbard Medal to the late National Geographic Explorer at Large Dr. Thomas Lovejoy in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to conservation biology and, specifically, to the understanding and protection of the Amazon rainforest.
The Society’s most prestigious award, the Hubbard Medal recognizes individuals for the highest distinction in exploration, scientific research, and discovery. The award most often celebrates years of ground-breaking achievements in a particular field or discipline.
“We are so very grateful to receive this recognition on behalf of our father in support of his life’s work,” his daughters Betsy, Kata, and Annie said. “Papa had tireless energy, coupled with a profound sense of hope that we, humankind, could solve the most challenging environmental issues and preserve our planet for the future. He would have been humbled, in truth, to receive the Hubbard Medal, and we too, are deeply humbled to accept this award on his behalf.”
Lovejoy, who began his work in the Amazon in 1965, is best known for helping popularize the term “biological diversity” and for his research on the interaction between climate change and biodiversity. He used his field research and expertise to bring much needed attention to the fragile state of our environment and advocate for conservation efforts. One such example was Lovejoy’s leadership as a co-author of the 2019 study that led to the development of the Tropical Forest Vulnerability Index, which will help policy makers plan for conservation and restoration of the world’s tropical rainforests to avoid tipping points. He also served as a mentor to many individuals and an advisor to organizations, including the Society.
“Tom was a passionate champion for biodiversity and his unwavering dedication to the conservation of the Amazon made an undeniable impact on all those he worked with, the field of conservation biology, and our planet. I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for this year’s Hubbard Medal,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, the Society’s CEO.
The Amazon Rainforest, which encompasses eight countries, is home to over 40 million people and one in 10 of the planet’s known species. The water of the Amazon, from the Andes to the Atlantic, and everywhere in between is the lifeblood of the planet. However, repeated and increased degradation such as deforestation, poaching, commercial agriculture, and climate change decreases the Amazon’s ability to adequately provide these critical ecosystem services for the planet.
As we celebrate and honor Lovejoy’s extraordinary legacy, the Society continues to invest in science, exploration, storytelling, and education by funding a deep bench of Amazon-focused Explorers like biologist Ruthmery Pillco and photojournalist Florence “Flor” Goupil.
Lovejoy will be honored during the Society’s upcoming National Geographic Explorers Festival in June, which is hosted in partnership with Rolex in the framework of its Perpetual Planet initiative. Other distinguished awardees have included astronaut John Glenn, marine archaeologist Bob Ballard, primatologist Jane Goodall, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and National Geographic Explorer in Residence and conservationist Enric Sala.