In the 1970s, Professor Myers was the first to alert the world to the true magnitude of mass species extinction and tropical forest destruction. Later he identified clearance for cattle pasture to supply the North American fast food industry as the principal cause of deforestation in Central America. He also drew attention to the influence of tropical forests on climate, both locally and globally.
More recently, Professor Myers' work on "biodiversity hotspots" has been extremely influential. A biodiversity hotspot is an area where exceptional numbers of species found nowhere else are undergoing massive habitat loss. He calculated that at least one third of all species are confined to 25 hotspots, comprising just 1.4 per cent of the Earth's land surface. Professor Myers proposed that, by preserving these hotspots, the mass extinction could be significantly reduced.
As well as travelling and working in many parts of Africa and Latin America, Professor Myers has advised and undertaken research for a wide variety of prestigious organisations, including the United Nations, the US National Academy of Sciences, the White House and the European Commission. He has published more than 250 scientific papers and 300 popular articles, as well as 17 books, which have sold over one million copies.
Professor Myers said: "Your generous award will enable me to carry on with my independent career in a much more productive manner than hitherto. I can now concentrate on what I view as the most important environmental questions of our time. I feel you are setting me free to do more in the next decade than in all my professional life to date."
In addition to the Blue Planet Prize, Professor Myers has received Gold Medals from both WWF and the New York Zoological Society. Other honours include the first Distinguished Achievement Award of the Society for Conservation Biology and an appointment to The Order of St Michael and St George for "services to the global environment".
Professor Norman Myers is one of 29 WWF ambassadors - distinguished individuals who serve as advocates and supporters for the organisation. The ambassadors initiative was founded in 1999 and membership is by invitation only. Each member has been invited because of his or her long-term commitment to WWF's work, or because of the influence they can bring to bear on others for the benefit of WWF and the environment. They are drawn from business, the scientific community, showbusiness, the media or have distinguished themselves in their chosen field.
The Blue Planet Prize
Established in 1992 with the aim of helping to preserve the Earth's beauty for future generations, the Blue Planet Prize is presented by the Asahi Glass Foundation. Each year, two individuals or organisations that have made outstanding scientific contributions to environmental conservation are chosen as recipients. The other winner this year is Sir Robert May, himself a former Trustee of WWF. The award ceremony will be held on 15 November 2001 in Tokyo, Japan.