Local Man Receives Conservation Honor
San Diego real estate developer-turned conservationist, Ivan Gayler, was awarded the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Conservation Medal for his efforts to safeguard nine million acres of critical plant and animal habitat in Mexico, Ecuador, Columbia and Peru.
“I became an active conservationist as a consequence of a single experience,” said Gayler. “Flying over the Amazon it seemed like all I saw was a lattice of logging roads and smoke from forest fires. It became apparent to me at that moment in time that I was seeing the last great ecosystem on this planet disappearing before my very eyes.”
In 1997, Gayler established Nature and Culture International (NCI), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving biological and cultural diversity internationally. It empowers local people by funding projects that create scientific research, education and sustainable economic uses of the forests. The most unique part the organization is it allows people to save their habitat in a way they want to save it.
“Preserving ecosystems is vital to the health of our planet and an important part of the San Diego Zoo’s mission to protect animals,” said Mark Stuart, president of The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego. “Working alongside conservationists like Ivan Gayler, we can conserve homes for endangered species.”
A resident of Del Mar, Calif., Gayler grew up exploring the coastal sage and chaparral of San Diego County. He worked as a carpenter for eight years before forming his own real estate development and investment firm. Ivan has served as president and board member of the San Diego Museum of Man, and was a member of the Director’s Cabinet of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and board member of the La Jolla Playhouse.