The National Geographic Society today recognized President Juan Manuel Santos of the Republic of Colombia for his unwavering commitment to conservation. In a ceremony at Society headquarters, Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of National Geographic Society, along with Jean Case, chairman of the National Geographic Society Board of Trustees, honored President Santos for his dedicated efforts to protect Colombia’s environment. Colombia is one of world’s richest countries with respect to biological and cultural diversity, and President Santos has done more than many elected leaders in the Americas to expand protected areas so they’re enjoyed by generations to come.
Since his election to the presidency in 2010, President Santos, last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, has made significant strides on behalf of the environment, increasing the total area of Colombia’s network of protected areas to more than 6,500 square miles on land and sea. Most notably, he more than doubled the size of Chiribiquete National Park, located in the heart of Colombian Amazonia. The park contains a variety of natural wonders, from “tepuis” — table-top mountains with isolated, unique ecosystems — to some of the most botanically diverse lowland forests in the northern Amazon. The amazing animal species in Chiribiquete include jaguars, tapirs and birds found in no other region on Earth.