Three New SRI Announced announces three new $20,000 environmental reporting prizes under its Special Reporting Initiatives program.

Three new environmental journalism prizes will enable journalists to do in-depth reporting on three important environmental topics: the role of community forest management in addressing climate change, cleaning up commodity supply chains, and the market for more sustainable seafood in China.The prizes come under’s Special Reporting Initiatives (SRI), a program that provides funding for environmental reporting. will commit up to $20,000 to fund the top proposal for each SRI: $15,000 as a stipend and up to $5,000 for reporting and travel costs.

Each SRI fellow is selected through a competitive process involving an independent panel of journalists and issue area experts. The fellow has up to six months for travel, research, and writing. He or she can work from anywhere in the world.

“The SRI program aims to stimulate reporting on environmental issues that haven’t garnered much attention from mainstream media outlets,” said President Rhett A. Butler. “I’m very excited to see the stories that result from these new SRI topics which explore the challenges of protecting the environment in the face of rising global population and consumption.”

The new SRI’s:

Community forestry as a climate change solution

Growing evidence suggests that community control of forests provides conservation, development, and climate change mitigation benefits. But while the global area of forest owned by indigenous peoples and local communities has increased over the past decade, many forest dependent communities continue to face insecure tenure, overlapping or conflicting ownership claims, and the risk of expropriation by government or industry. This SRI challenges a journalist to bring attention to the climate change benefits of community forests.

Photo by Rhett A. Butler /

Cleaning up commodity supply chains

The production of agricultural commodities (especially timber, pulp and paper, palm oil, beef, and soy) is a leading driver of deforestation and forest degradation. This SRI challenges you to bring new evidence and analysis into the discussion of the problems with commodity supply chains and how they can be restructured to protect forests and community rights.

Is there demand for sustainable fisheries’ products in China?

China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of seafood products, with its practices substantially impacting global fisheries management and ocean health far from its own shores, from West Africa to the Western Pacific. While some markets are moving toward more responsibly sourced seafood, it’s unclear whether this shift is taking place in China. This SRI will ask: is there a market for sustainable seafood in China?

Rhett A. Butler /
Rhett A. Butler /

The application deadline for these three SRIs is January 31st, 2014. To find information about how to apply, visit our apply page.

Last month Mongabay announced the first winner of its environmental reporting prize: What’s the next big idea in tropical biodiversity conservation?. After a two-month application window and a month of deliberations, an independent panel of journalists, conservation practitioners, and tropical forest specialists selected environmental journalist Wendee Nicole as the first recipient of the Mongabay Prize for Environmental Reporting.

Nicole’s reporting will examine the wider topic of innovation in tropical biology conservation, with focus on polycentric governance in Uganda and Peru. Her work will center around the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom’s theories of polycentric governance and decentralization: putting power in the hands of locals. Nicole will spend time in both countries, interviewing on-the-ground actors and looking at the struggle to combat poverty while preserving shared resources like forests and biodiversity. In the process, Nicole will produce a series of articles on what’s working and what’s not in the world of forest conservation.

The Special Reporting Initiatives program enables professional journalists to conduct in-depth reporting on a specific issue that may be otherwise overlooked or underreported by the broader media. SRI fellows are given the funding and support to become issue area experts, adding value to their own career and contributing to the wider conversation regarding the state of our natural world. expects to announce a new SRI every few months. You can sign up here to receive an email each time a new opportunity opens.

Future SRIs* Include:

  • The benefits of protected areas in the Amazon
  • Food waste and spoilage in Africa
  • Effectiveness of certification / commodity roundtables
  • Renewable energy in India
  • Financing of dams in the Amazon

Photo by Rhett A. Butler /

For more information about this SRI, the Special Reporting Initiatives program, or on how to apply, please visit the SRI homepage.

* The SRIs on the list above are all tentative and subject to change.