Gustavo Fonseca, leading biologist in Brazil, dies at 66

Gustavo Fonseca, leading biologist in Brazil, dies at 66
Gustavo Fonseca, leading biologist in Brazil, dies at 66

posted on 08/31/2022 18:52

(credit: Global Environment Facility/Flickr)

One of the great names of Brazilian conservationism, Gustavo Fonseca, died this Wednesday (31/8), at age 66, a victim of a massive heart attack. Gustavo lived in Washington (USA), with his family.

Gustavo graduated in Biology at the University of Brasília (UnB) and did his master’s and doctorate at the University of Florida. When he returned to Brazil, the biologist began to get directly involved in ideas of Biological Conservation in Brazil.

To Mail, Professor Ricardo Machado from the Institute of Biological Sciences at UnB (IB/UnB), shared memories about Gustavo. “My wife and I met Gustavo in 1986 when he returned from Florida, where he worked with the main conservationists of the time, and when he returned to Brazil, he brought with him the idea of ​​starting to develop conservation here a little more”.

Ricardo says that he and his wife, teacher Ludmilla Moura, were Gustavo’s students and that they currently use the teachings they learned from him and try to apply them. “We are at the university bringing these teachings and trying to apply these principles that are so important at the moment, of maintaining our natural heritage and conserving biodiversity”, he says.

Gustavo spent years working as a professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and there he created one of the first Master’s and Doctoral courses in Biodiversity Conservation. Gustavo’s conservation work also secured support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which funded several student dissertations and theses.

Another legacy left by him was the creation of the Biodiversitas Foundation, which began with the donation of resources from the McCartney Foundation in the United States. “He was [uma doação] at the time, three hundred thousand dollars, which was an absurd amount of money to start the Foundation’s activities”, explains Ricardo.

Work beyond Brazil

According to Ricardo, to try to reach new horizons in the area of ​​conservation, he started working together with a North American non-governmental organization called Conservation International and was one of the first presidents for Brazil of this organization.

Ricardo and Ludmilla came to work with him in this endeavor as assistants and together they made several publications in the early 90’s. Soon, Gustavo began to interact more with the organization’s headquarters in Washington (USA) and began to maintain contact with researchers from several countries. . As he was a professor at UFMG, he could not stay away from the University for a long time and therefore had to leave the NGO.

He quickly got a new job. Global Environment Fund (GEF) which is one of the financial arms of Global Conservation. Thus, it defined policies for the application of resources destined to the conservation of biodiversity in several countries in the world.

Gustavo also received the Ordem da Ark de Ouro award, which recognized his work in the conservation of biodiversity and was granted by the government of the Netherlands.

“He will really leave a very big gap for Brazilian conservation because he reconciled this aspect of being extremely articulated between the great millionaires of the planet, between the governments of different countries, mainly the North American and Brazilian governments. And this extreme capacity to create opportunities for people to get involved in this cause”, highlights Ricardo. “Many people were inspired, influenced and gained support from him in order to start a career in applied science to the constellation of biodiversity”, he also pointed out.

The article is in Portuguese

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