In March 2013, Mrs. Marie-Claire Paiz came to Gabon with the responsibility of launching The Nature Conservancy country program focused in freshwater conservation. As the Country Director, she has been responsible for developing the strategic vision for the program; establish partnerships with key stakeholders from the public and private sector; build a team of Gabonese professionals connected to our global network of experts; secure the operational set-up of the program; and steer the work to deliver on conservation results.
During that time and under Mrs. Paiz direction, TNC produced Gabon’s first Freshwater Atlas – a conservation blueprint for freshwater biodiversity and sustainable use of aquatic ecosystems – as a decision-support tool for national planning efforts. TNC has been leading scientific expeditions to remote regions of the country to help document the natural richness of Gabon’s rivers and wetlands, including the discovery of new species of fish and the mapping of critical wetland habitats. TNC has provided technical assistance to improve wetlands conservation and inland fisheries management; carrying out first-in-country hydrological modeling to improve basin management; and providing guidance for the sustainable development of hydropower projects, so that new projects have the least impact on natural systems.
Mrs. Paiz has been with the Conservancy since 2004. Before her current appointment, she was the Conservation Programs Director for Mexico and Northern Central America (2009 - 2013), the Southern Mexico Director (2005 - 2009), and the Maya Forest Program Manager (2004). In these roles, Mrs. Paiz provided guidance for projects development and implementation, working with teams to secure the resources and support needed, and ensure conservation outcomes in trans-boundary forests, marine and grasslands habitats in Mexico and Central America (tri-national Maya Forest, Chiapas highlands, Mesoamerican reef and Chihuahuan grasslands).
Before working for the Conservancy, Mrs. Paiz, a Guatemalan native, worked in protected areas management for over 8 years with Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, one of Guatemala’s leading conservation non-profit. She spent 3 years as the head of a research study on the Resplendent Quetzal in Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve and 5 years as the Director of the Sierra del Lacandón National Park, a protected area in northern Guatemala.
Mrs. Paiz has a Biology undergraduate degree from Universidad del Valle in Guatemala, and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Mrs. Paiz is fluent in Spanish, English and French and is the proud mother of two budding global citizens.