Rhett Butler

Update: As of 12/31/2022, Rhett's biography has been consolidated here. This page is archived so please visit that link for his current bio.

Summary: Rhett is the founder and CEO of Mongabay, a nonprofit environmental media organization. Beyond Mongabay, Rhett has advised a range of organizations and institutions, from news outlets to philanthropic foundations to development agencies, and his writing and photography have appeared in hundreds of publications. Rhett was the first journalist to win the Field Museum's Parker/Gentry Award from the Field Museum in Chicago.

Full biography: Rhett Butler founded Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife. For the first ten years of the project, he operated Mongabay on his own, publishing thousands of stories and tens of thousands of photos.

Today Rhett Butler serves as editor-in-chief and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit media organization with about 80 staff across five bureaus (Global, Indonesia, Latin America, South Asia, and Brazil) and a network of around 800 correspondents in 80 countries who pursue stories ranging from conventional news articles to deeply-reported investigative projects.

Beyond Mongabay, Rhett Butler founded WildMadagascar.org, a site that highlights the spectacular cultural and biological richness of Madagascar and reports on environmental news for the Indian Ocean island nation.

Rhett Butler in Sarawak

Rhett Butler was also co-founder of Tropical Conservation Science (acquired by SAGE Publications in August 2016), an open-access academic journal that aims to provide opportunities for scientists in developing countries to publish their research, and the Tropical Forest Network (BATFN), a social network in the San Francisco Bay Area broadly interested in tropical forest conservation and ecology which operated from 2009-2019.

Outside of these pursuits, Rhett Butler has advised a wide range of organizations, including governments, multilateral development agencies, media outlets, academic institutions, foundations, and private sector entities. He has been an information source for the The Economist, BBC, CNN, CBS, NBC, Fox News, National Geographic, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, Business Week, Bloomberg, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Reuters, Voice of America, the Associated Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the L.A. Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Forbes, among many other media outlets.

Rhett Butler also speaks regularly on topics surrounding forests and the environment (especially trends in deforestation) and new media. He has spoken at Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the National University of Singapore, USAID, ETH Zurich, Yale, Princeton, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, UNFCCC COP, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Stony Brook University, among other places and events. In 2011 and 2012 he participated in the U.S. State Department Speakers Program in Indonesia.

Rhett Butler's work has been published outside of his web sites, including magazines, newspapers, online media, and academic journals (see below). His photos have appeared in hundreds of publications.

In 2011 Rhett Butler published RAINFORESTS, a book about rainforests geared toward kids. The text is based on the popular mongabay kids' section and includes more than 150 photos.

In April 2012 Rhett Butler hired a team in Indonesia to run mongabay.co.id, an Indonesian-language provider of environmental news and analysis. Mongabay.co.id officially launched in May 2012. In June 2016, he launched Mongabay-Latam, a Spanish-language news service for Latin America. In January 2018, Mongabay launched in India. In 2019, Mongabay hired its first staff in Brazil and in late 2020, Mongabay launched in Hindi.

Rhett Butler has been profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, Voice of America and The Almanac, among other publications.

In 2014, Rhett Butler became the first journalist to win the Parker/Gentry Award, a conservation prize given annually by the Field Museum in Chicago. Rhett was honored with the Pongo Environmental Award in 2020, the SEAL Environmental Journalism Award in 2021, and the Heinz Award in 2022.

See Rhett Butler's motivation for starting mongabay.com, and subsequent development of Mongabay.org, the non-profit that now houses Mongabay News and other properties. Further background on Rhett Butler is available at the FAQs/Interview page

Contact Rhett Butler:

rhett [at] mongabay [dot] com

Update: As of 12/31/2022, Rhett's biography has been consolidated here. This page is archived so please visit that link for his current bio.

Highlighted non-Mongabay publications:










Other activities:

Biography Card:

Rhett Ayers Butler
Founder, CEO, and Executive Editor
1259 El Camino Real #150
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Rhett Butler's personal website: