Field Museum Receives $5 Million Grant from MacArthur
September 12, 2006 | Press Release | Conservation & Sustainable Development

MacArthur has granted The Field Museum $5 million to strengthen and broaden the Museum’s work in conservation. MacArthur’s generous grant is a testament to the Museum’s successful track record of working with the Foundation to study biodiversity and put that knowledge into action on behalf of the environment.

"With this grant, the MacArthur Foundation is supporting both an important Chicago cultural institution and a global conservation leader," said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton.  "Known locally for its public exhibitions, The Field Museum conducts biodiversity conservation work around the world, helping to discover new species and create new national parks.  We are pleased to support and help build this outstanding local and international institution."

Together with the MacArthur Foundation, The Field Museum has helped create 25,000 square miles of new national parks and protected regions in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, discover over 150 new species of plants and animals, train more than 15,000 students, scientists, land managers and non-governmental organization leaders in conservation science, and implement new models for conservation action that empower local people to become active stewards of their own natural and cultural resources.  The Foundation and Museum are currently working together in four biodiversity hotspots in six countries.

Eighty percent of the MacArthur grant will support two scientific positions in the Museum’s Environment, Culture and Conservation (ECCo) Division—one position in conservation ecology and the other in community outreach. The remainder of the funds will be used to support Dr. Steven Goodman, a Field Museum Biologist and one of the world’s premier experts on Madagascar’s diverse and understudied biodiversity.

Created in 1996, ECCo’s strength lies in its nontraditional approach to conservation that translates the Museum’s scientific expertise, vast collection of flora and fauna, and innovative education and communication skills into rapid environmental action.  This approach has been proven time and time again to help conserve biological diversity and ensure the well being of people living in and near biologically rich areas from China to Cuba. ECCo achieves science-based conservation results through many methods and tools, including:

  • Rapid inventories that quickly assess an area’s natural and cultural resources;
  • Management plans that assure the long-term viability of these areas;
  • Guides that expedite plant and animal identification in the field; and 
  • Community programs that engage local residents.

Dr. Steven Goodman is based in Madagascar where he works with international conservation groups and local biologists to record and preserve ecosystems increasingly threatened by rapid deforestation and population growth. He also founded and leads the Ecological Training Program (ETP) at the University of Antananarivo, a pioneering program to train Malagasy biologists in conservation science. A tenacious researcher, Goodman has braved extreme conditions to identify dozens of new bird, insect, and mammal species, conduct rigorous biological surveys and inventories, and transform scientific knowledge of Madagascar.

The Field Museum, founded in 1893 is one of the world’s premier natural history museums, housing more than 23 million specimens. It is also a major center for scientific research, with a presence in 64 countries and more than 200 scientists working around the world in anthropology, botany, conservation, cultural understanding, geology and zoology.

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