Since the beginning of the nineties, a Transboundary Collaboration initiative was developed between our three countries, namely the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, for the conservation of the rich biodiversity our promote tourism in our contiguous protected areas, all located in the Central Albertine Rift, also commonly known as the Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL). This region of the Greater Virunga Landscape shared between these three countries is composed of seven national parks, some of them have been recognized internationally. Three are World Heritage sites and these include the Virunga National Park of the DRC, Rwenzori National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda. There are also two MAB sites: Uganda’s Queen Elisabeth National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park as well as two Ramsar sites including Lake George of Uganda and Lake Edward of the DRC.
This Transboundary Collaboration born from a dynamic initiated by the rangers of our three countries in nineties had a major target to protect the mountain gorillas that were crossing the borders and stay without worry in any of our three countries. It culminated with the signing of the Treaty on Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC), on 30 October 2015.
These efforts were financially supported by the Government of the Netherlands through its Embassy in Kigali up to date.
We note that, despite being rich in terms of biodiversity, the GVL region faces a number of threats including recurrent insecurity, growing population density, natural-resources-based conflicts, encroachment on national parks, poverty and dependence on natural resources, wildlife crimes and trafficking, climate change and habitat loss, extractive industries and landscape fragmentation.
Sustainable conservation then requires collaboration and capacity building of personnel working for biodiversity conservation. It is in this respect that the Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration (GVTC), together with its network partners Institut d’Enséignement Supérieur de Ruhengeri (Ruhengeri Institute of Higher Education or INES-Ruhengeri, Rwanda), Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC, Uganda) and Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG, DR Congo), initiated a project on “Enhancing Capacities in Natural Resource Management and Conflict Resolution for Stability and Inclusive Growth in the Greater Virunga Landscape.” The project is implemented in collaboration with Search for Common Ground (SFCG, Rwanda), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU, Netherlands), and Ghent University (GU, Belgium) to implement a project. Known as the “3C” project, it works on creating a facilitating environment for park management and conservation based on the slogan “From Conflict to Collaboration to Conservation”. The project (NICHE-GLR-264) is funded by “Nuffic”, the Netherlands Organization for International Collaboration in Higher Education, through its NICHE programme that aims to develop capacity in Higher Education by investing in sustainable teaching and learning.
In this respect, students from the partner institutes received a PhD or MSc scholarship for capacity building to ensure that the institutions for which they work have competent staff with knowledge and skills to deal with issues of sustainable conservation of the GVL. In addition, the institutes received a budget for investment in research equipment to be used by its staff for the conduct of field studies.
In what way will staff and students of the institutes affiliated to the 3C project contribute to sustainability and protection of the GVL?
Research is one of the key components of conservation providing scientific knowledge and evidence for policy makers and park managers. The results of the research will be of great value to allow informed decision making at different levels of the conservation efforts.
Below are the students and staff affiliated with the 3C project through different areas of research:
1. Mr. Ruzigandekwe Fidèle:
He works for GVTC. Doing his PhD at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam-Netherlands (VU). His research will focus on: Sustainable finance for the Transboundary Protected Area Network- Case of the Greater Virunga Landscape.
2. Mr. Emmanuel Akampurira:
He works with ITFC- Uganda. Doing his PhD at Ghent University in Belgium. His research focuses on: The Political Ecology of Human-Wild Conflict Management around Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Protected Areas. He looks at how conflict is produced and sustained.
1. Christine Nyiramajyambere
She works for INES- Rwanda, doing her Masters at University of Rwanda, her research will be focus on: Tourism and conservation benefits retention among stakeholders around VNP.
2. Abel Minani
He works for OVG-DRC. He is doing his Masters at MUST-Uganda. His research will focus on Effect of the Human-Wildlife Conflict Interventions on the Transitional Process to Sustainable Wildlife Conservation: The case of the Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park.
3. Eliode Bakole:
He works for OVG-DRC. He is doing his Masters at MUST. His research will focus on: Involvement of Indigenous People and Biodiversity conservation: Case of “Batwa” in the Virunga National Park, Mikeno sector, Democratic Republic of Congo.
4. Odette Dusabimana.
She works for INES-Ruhengeri/Rwanda. She is doing her Masters at University of Rwanda. Her research will focus on: Analysis of land use/cover change in greater Virunga landscape using GIS Technics.
5. Isaac Twinomuhangi
He works for ITFC. He is doing his Masters at MUST-Uganda. His research will focus on the contribution of Non-state organizations towards management of human-wildlife conflicts around Bwindi impenetrable national park.
6. Mr. Jean Pierre Habimana.
He works for INES-Ruhengeri/Rwanda. He is doing his Masters at University of Rwanda. His Research will focus on: Water provision as an ecosystem service around VNP.
This is a huge contribution of NUFFIC through NICHE to the Greater Virunga Landscape conservation.
Partner Institutions of GVTC including Search for Common Ground, ITFC, OVG and INES are doing a tremendous work to conserve the Greater Virunga Landscape.
Search for Common Ground is very active in Conflict Transformation.
INES-Ruhengeri, à part its contribution in the field of education, its role in research on water, soil erosion,… is very well appreciated.
ITFC and OVG are also doing a great work in the field of research where the results of their researches are serving to put up programs and projects aiming at sustainably conserve the Greater Virunga Landscape.
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