TIME magazine awarded Prof. Vo Quy the title Hero of the environment. He is the first Vietnamese and also the second Asian that has been awarded the Blue Planet prize by the ASAHI foundation, Japan in 2003, which is described as the Nobel Prize for the environmental sciences. 9 years later, in 2012, he is one of three scientists that received the MIDORI prize for biodiversity.
A species of pheasant named VoQuy
Born in Yen Ho commune (Duc Tho district, Ha Tinh province), Prof. Vo Quy developed a deep interest in birds from childhood. Later, when he was a lecturer at the Biology Faculty of the VietnamNationalUniversity, Hanoi which is now called University of Natural Sciences, he became an ornithologist.
Among the birds that Prof. Vo Quy researches, there is a special species of bird named after him, VoQuy pheasant. He discovered this rare-feathered species of pheasant in the area of Ke Go, Ha Tinh province. Witnessing by his own eyes, he identified that this species has not ever been listed in the books he researched. In 1964, he studied at MoscowUniversity for doctorate degree continuing his study on the rare pheasant species. In his graduation Thesis, he presented about the new pheasant species called Lophura hatinhensis or HaTinh pheasant in Vietnamese name. Many foreign scholars currently consider this species as VoQuy’s pheasant.
Among his achievements in ornithology, the most outstanding one is his book “Birds of Vietnam” written during the war. The book which is thousands of pages in thickness describes 774 species and over 1000 sub-species of birds of Vietnam. The book he presented at an international conference on birds in India in 1985 received warm welcome and high appreciation. His colleagues and friends call him Vietnam Ornithologist thanks to his significant contribution.
Devotion to charity for environment
Not only known in ornithology, Prof. Vo Quy is also known for his research of Agent Orange in early 70s. He is the first person to publish hundreds of film footage on forests of died precious trees and barren land caused by Agent Orange.
In 1983, at the 1st international scientific conference on toxic chemicals in Ho Chi Minh City, many American and British scientists said that those destroyed forests would regenerate after 40 to 50 years. However, Prof. Vo Quy argued that it would take several hundred years for those forests’ recovery.
Accordingly, he initiated many efficient measures to recover two hectares of destroyed forest caused by napalm bomb and Agent Orange. As a result, he achieved quite a few international environmental awards.
To date, Prof. Vo Quy has received nine international environmental awards. One of his noteworthy achievements is the Blue Planet prize – the biggest award in the world for environment equivalent to the Nobel Prize for environment sciences given by ASAHI foundation, Japan. He was also selected as one of 35 Heroes of the Environment by TIME magazine.
It is noteworthy that he spent most of money he earned from prizes on charity programs. He decided to grant a prize worth 50 million JYP (equivalent to 6 billion VND) to a program training Vietnamese environmental cadres.
He donated 150,000 USD of the PEW Scholars Award of University of Michigan (equivalent to over 3 billion VND) and 100,000 USD of the MIDORI prize for Biodiversity (equivalent to over 2 billion VND) to the annual scholarship program for Faculty of Biology at University of Natural Sciences of Vietnam National University, Hanoi. He said that Vietnam is in need of excellent environmental cadres for future environment protection.