Adalberto Sigismundo Eberhard
This profile was prepared when Adalberto Sigismundo Eberhard was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1991.
The New Idea
Speeches, articles, even videos and international conferences do not ultimately protect the environment. A complex machinery of research, regulations, monitoring, inspections, and enforcement is essential. Much of this machinery must be provided by government, but for that to happen, there must be adequate political support.Adalberto's most important contribution is in showing how the environment's friends can create such an ongoing, effective machinery at the state level. Although he is from the south of Brazil, he has chosen to work in Mato Grosso State. It is an exceptionally important state environmentally: its central area includes the headwaters of important rivers flowing north to the Amazon and south toward Paraguay and Argentina; it also includes the extraordinary Pantanal wetlands. But Brazil's economic troubles have driven more people and cattle westward into this sensitive region, threatening to upset the ecological balance.From his independent position as head of Ecotropica, the private citizen group he created, Adalberto researches the state's environmental needs, defines the problems and possible solutions, builds public understanding and support, and defines and builds active pro-environment political coalitions issue by issue.One of Adalberto's top priorities is the Pantanal. The Brazilian Pantanal covers an area of approximately 96,000 square miles (twenty times the size of the Florida Everglades) in the Brazilian midwest. It is home to hundreds of species of mammals and reptiles, including jaguars and caimans. More than 600 species of birds live there, many of them found only in the Pantanal, such as the endangered hyacinth macaw, the world's largest parrot.