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[RIO DE JANEIRO] A foundation affiliated to a multinational financial group based in Spain has announced that it is to sponsor two new prizes, each worth €230,000 (US$280,000) to projects that involve the conservation of biodiversity in Latin America.

One award will be for non-governmental organisations with conservation projects. The other is for scientists conducting biodiversity research.

An additional award of €80,000 is being made to encourage knowledge dissemination and sensitisation in biodiversity conservation. This award, which is intended to recognise individual contributions to raising public awareness of biodiversity conservation, is aimed at Spanish scientists and professionals engaged in this activity.

The awards are being made by the BBVA Foundation. According to the foundation's president, Francisco González, the initiative is intended to demonstrate the organisation's commitment to sustainable development, and particularly to the conservation of the natural environment.

Latin America is being targetted because of its high biodiversity, the loss of which the foundation hopes to reduce by stimulating both research and communication.

Proposals can be submitted by 30 July 2004 by universities, governmental research centres, groups of scientists, and other organisations.