Community members gathered at the Powerhouse Community Center in Del Mar Sept. 15 to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Nature and Culture International (NCI), a conservation nonprofit aimed at helping local and indigenous people preserve rain forests and other endangered ecosystems throughout Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico, according to the group’s press release.
Nearly 150 people gathered to celebrate international conservation and to honor NCI’s founder and Del Mar resident, Ivan Gayler, with the inaugural E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Award, the release stated.
“I realized long ago that I could build another shopping center like the Del Mar Plaza but never in a million years could I create a songbird, a pink river dolphin or a blue morpho butterfly,” Gayler said, according to the release. “That has helped me to dedicate my time and resources to help conserve the variety of life on earth. To me the highest expression of life is the variety of life itself.”
Having already helped to save 13 million acres in Latin America to date, NCI has its sights on preserving 20 million acres by 2020, according to the release. NCI is focusing on raising the necessary capital to continue and expand conservation work.
“We have a moral obligation to continue the good work we are doing not for ourselves but for future generations and the health of the planet,” Gayler said.
The majority of NCI employees are local Latin American conservationists who work closely with local communities and local governments, according to the group. More information about NCI can be found at natureandculture.org.