Biodiversity Conservation Efforts in Africa's Albertine Rift Region
October 24, 2005 | Press Release | Conservation & Sustainable Development

MacArthur has announced 13 new grants totaling more than $4 million for biodiversity conservation efforts in the Albertine Rift area of Central Africa, which stretches from just north of Lake Albert in Uganda to the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika in Zambia (see map for details). Grant funds will be used to conserve large landscapes, help local authorities better manage conservation efforts, and research new approaches to conservation.

Although the Albertine Rift covers only one percent of the landmass of Africa, it is home to more than half of Africa’s birds and nearly 40 percent of its mammals, including the endangered mountain gorilla. In the past decade, the region has been plagued by civil unrest, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people. Today, although fighting has subsided, poverty persists and regional governments are focused on rebuilding communities and infrastructure devastated by war.

“The combination of civil strife and deep poverty make Africa one of the most challenging environments in which to carry out conservation work,” said Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “Many of the communities living in or near protected areas are fully dependent upon the land for their survival. Our commitments in the region consider these important needs, especially as communities rebuild their lives post-conflict. Our goal is to work with regional governments and organizations as well as local communities to develop long-term conservation strategies.”

Six grants totaling $1.85 million have been awarded to build capacity for local governments, universities and non-governmental organizations:

  • The Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks will receive a grant of $500,000 over three years to help establish a conservation training center near its Nyungwe National Park. Grant funds will be used to help build the center’s facilities, develop a curriculum, and provide training opportunities for park staff during the center’s construction.
  • A grant of $390,000 over three years is awarded to The National University of Rwanda to help expand the pool of conservation experts in the country by developing a graduate program in conservation and revising its undergraduate biology program to include coursework in conservation.
  • Greenwatch (Kampala, Ugdanda) will receive a grant of $280,000 over three years to train judicial and other public officers working on environmental law. The proposed training will help the judiciary better interpret legal provisions and impose appropriate penalties for environmental offenses. Training for public officers will promote public participation in the enforcement of environmental laws.
  • Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda will receive a grant of $270,000 over three years to provide scientific data to protected area authorities in the Virunga National Park in an effort to help them develop policies governing the management of their protected areas and to support the development of a plan for monitoring conservation in the area. Funding will also enhance the university’s field-based conservation training and research.
  • Makerere University’s Institute for Environment and Natural Resources in Uganda will receive a grant of $220,000 over three years to restructure its graduate program to make it more responsive to modern conservation needs.
  • A grant of $190,000 over three years was awarded to Conservation Through Public Health (Port Townsend, WA) to help the Uganda Wildlife Authority address the threat of wild animal disease in two of its national parks. Park staff will receive training on major diseases that affect wildlife, people and livestock and on techniques for establishing baseline data on wildlife health. A wild animal health monitoring system will be set up which will include a data sharing component for officers working in public health, livestock and wildlife sectors.

Five grants totaling more than $1.8 million will be awarded for efforts to help conserve large landscapes in the region.

  • A grant of $470,000 over three years is awarded to the Wildlife Conservation Society (Bronx, NY) to enhance the tourism infrastructure in Nyungwe Park and to coordinate conservation activities between conservation staff on both the Rwanda and Burundi sides of the park. Grant funds will also be used to undertake biological surveys in Burundi and eastern Congo, and to train park staff from Uganda, Burundi and Congo in conservation monitoring and data analysis.
  • The Wildlife Conservation Society will receive a second grant of $300,000 over three years for the development of strategic plans for conservation efforts in three large landscapes in the Albertine Rift. The Society will work with other international and national organizations to help developing a common vision and framework for conservation in the Rift. Funding will also support the establishment of a regional conservation monitoring system and build capacity for local non-governmental organizations.
  • The African Wildlife Foundation (Washington, DC) will receive a grant of $450,000 over three years to help strengthen the long-term management of the Congo’s Virunga National Park, which, along with protected areas in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda, is home to the endangered mountain gorilla. Grant funds will also be used for short-term emergency funding to support basic operational costs for Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks in Congo. In Uganda, the Foundation will use grant funds to help secure the mountain gorilla habitat on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park by working with local communities to encourage livelihoods that do not depend on Park resources.
  • A grant of $370,000 over three years to Fauna and Flora International (Washington, DC) will help strengthen biodiversity conservation efforts in Uganda’s Ruwenzori Mountains and Lake Mburo National Parks by incorporating locally meaningful and ecologically compatible cultural values into park management.
  • A grant of $215,000 over three years is awarded to the Uganda Wildlife Authority to help rehabilitate the infrastructure of the Ruwenzori Mountains National Park and train park management staff.
  • Two grants totaling $485,000 have been awarded for research efforts on new thinking about conservation in the Albertine Rift.
  • A grant of $325,000 over two years to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (Winnipeg, Canada) will fund research on the links between conservation interventions and conflict in the Albertine Rift. Grant funds will also be used to carry out pilot projects that integrate new thinking on the topic into selected projects in the region.
  • The Overseas Development Group at the University of East Anglia will receive a grant of $160,000 over three years to analyze conservation partnerships between park management and local organizations. The results will inform the development of viable models that consider the needs of local communities while improving management of Rwanda’s national parks.


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