Gateways to Conservation: Connecting People to Nature emphasizes importance of why global community needs to unite to preserve natural and cultural diversity

Examines link between environmental conservation and human security

NEW YORK October 20: The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today a new photographic exhibit at the United Nations headquarters to raise awareness about global conservation.

The new exhibit, Gateways to Conservation: Connecting People to Nature, runs from October 23rd, 2008 through January 9th, 2009, in the Main Gallery of the United Nations Visitors’ Lobby and features stunning images of wildlife and conservation sites from around the world, ranging from Madagascar’s Makira Forest – home to many species found nowhere else on earth – to Patagonia’s wildlife-rich coastal areas. This exhibit underscores the need for governments, the international community and citizens to unite to preserve natural and cultural diversity, from familiar landscapes to the farthest corners of the earth.

"Humankind’s heavy footprint has already caused the disappearance of many, many species,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Many more are endangered. This exhibition is a timely reminder not only of the wonders of nature, but of our dependence on the environment. I hope we will all leave here truly inspired to do our part for conservation."

Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of WCS, said: “The Wildlife Conservation Society is thrilled to partner with UNESCO in bringing this exhibit to the global community at the United Nations. With this work, we tell a story that clearly shows how all species and wild places are connected and why all nations must work together to protect our planet.”

The exhibit features three distinct galleries: Healthy Humans, Healthy Environments, which looks at the interconnectedness of human, animal and ecosystem health; Protecting Habitats and Wildlife, which offers solutions to the myriad challenges in preserving biodiversity; and Connecting People to Nature in an Urbanizing World, which builds awareness of and appreciation for ecosystem services in this new millennium.

"The reversal of current trends in the loss of biodiversity and degradation will only be possible if dealt with in an integrated and interdisciplinary manner that combines the fields of social and natural sciences, formal and informal knowledge and communications. UNESCO demonstrates this approach through its global networks of Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites," said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, who added, "This exhibition is a superb example of the effectiveness of partnerships between science and policy through public outreach."

The exhibit also features representations of the Human Footprint, a map created by scientists using satellite imagery, census data, and computer mapping technology to create a unique portrait of our global impact on every square kilometer of the Earth. From loss of forests to increased roadways into remote areas, the Human Footprint factors in human activity that is directly shaping a full 83 percent of the planet. This snapshot is designed to encourage all of us to anticipate the consequences of our choices and take steps that shape our future in positive ways.

The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, is on display in the Visitors’ Lobby of the United Nations Headquarters, First Avenue at East 46th St in New York City.

Media Inquiries:

Stephen Sautner, Director of Science Communications, WCS               718-220-3682  
Suzanne Bilello, Senior Public Information and Liaison Officer, UNESCO               212-963-4386  

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Learn more at:  

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a Specialized Agency that promotes international cooperation among its 193 Member States and six Associate Members in the fields of education, science, culture and communication. UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues; assists Member States to build their human and institutional capacities in diverse fields and works toward a global vision of sustainable development based upon observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty. Learn more at