An Isle of Arran, Scotland, environmentalist has been awarded a prominent global award, the Goldman Environmental Prize, for his work protecting marine habitats and the waters surrounding his community. Howard Wood is also an experienced diver who knows what it is like to travel under the ocean to view the delicate ecosystems he has worked to protect.
Howard Wood, along with Don MacNeish, founded the Community of Arran Seabed Trust or COAST organization to help manage and sustain marine resources and areas around Arran back in 1995. Wood is the first Scotsman to be awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, and the second person from the UK to receive it.
Goldman Environmental Prize Given to Heroes of the Environment
The Goldman Environmental Prize is meant to provide recognition to ordinary, everyday people who are considered environmental heroes for their actions in protecting the environment. The recipients are chosen from six areas of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.
The goal is to inspire others to take action of their own to help keep our world safe, even if it means taking great personal risks to do so. Wood is the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize award winner for the European area. He was given the award due to his establishment of a campaign to create the first community established, Marine Protected Area in Scotland in 2012, which is helping to turn a destroyed ecosystem into a place full of life again.
COAST Helped Return Ecosystem to Life
Wood was first able to see the damage that commercial fishing does as part of his travel under the ocean as a diver. The commercial fishing industry was using scallop dredging that destroyed all that it encountered in its path and didn’t just collect prawns or scallops. It broke up the coral reefs, tore up the kelp beds, and made it impossible for fish to have anywhere to breed, so the local fish, such as herring, and cod disappeared from the local waters.
Through the COAST organization, Wood managed to draw attention to this problem and get scientists, politicians and even fisherman to listen to the situation, which ultimately ended up accomplishing a No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay, which started in 2008. This allowed the area ecosystem to heal since no fishermen or others could travel there and fish or remove any other resources.
According to Wood, since that time the area has completely rebounded and has hundreds of times more scallop, fish and lobster living there, as well as more seaweed, sponges, and other sea creatures. Wood is set to receive the Goldman Environmental Prize in a ceremony in San Francisco, and is one of six in 2015 to be awarded it from Kenya, Myanmar, Haiti, Canada, Honduras and Scotland.
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