Professor E.J Milner-Gulland, longstanding collaborator of Altyn Dala, appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

E.J Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, has been appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2023 Birthday Honours for her services to international conservation.  

The Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative commends her scientific and societal contribution to nature conservation, particularly her groundbreaking research on the Critically Endangered saiga antelope, and tireless advocacy for their preservation.  

In 2006, E.J founded the Saiga Conservation Alliance, a network of researchers and conservationists committed to the study and protection of the saiga antelope. The Alliance combines on-the-ground research with the development of scientifically-sound policy and legislative recommendations, working through local partnerships while engaging and informing international research groups, NGOs and Conventions. 

E.J’s enduring focus on saiga conservation in Central Asia has been essential in the establishment and delivery of the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative. She continues to be a close associate, including as an expert advisor to the Convention on Migratory Species. In this capacity, she provides invaluable guidance on conserving and managing this remarkable keystone species throughout the steppe grasslands of Kazakhstan.

In 2017, E.J founded Conservation Optimism, a global community dedicated to inspiring and empowering individuals worldwide to create a positive impact for nature. The organisation is committed to fostering effective action and instilling a sense of wonder for the natural world, across generations, borders, languages, and cultures. 

Since its establishment, Conservation Optimism has successfully hosted two summits at the University of Oxford, attended by conservationists from around the world. It has subsequently launched regional hubs, run film festivals, produced a podcast series, and published hundreds of conservation stories. 

In addition, E.J chairs the UK Government’s Darwin Expert Committee. Since 1992, the Darwin Initiative has awarded over £160 million to more than 1,143 projects across 159 countries. In recent years, E.J has been catalytic in the Initiative’s targeted distribution of funding to projects in developing countries which strive to protect biodiversity, the natural environment and the local communities.  

We wish Professor Dame Milner-Gulland our wholehearted congratulations for her recent recognition, and abundant success in her future endeavors.  

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