Welcome to our New Partner: “Drexel University”!

 

Drexel University officially joins the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP)

 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (US), April 11th, 2014 – Drexel University has officially been accepted as the newest member of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP).  Drexel’s faculty and students are actively engaged in varied research and educational activities in central Africa that are consistent with CBFP’s goals and its conservation programs and affiliate institutions will serve as a valuable resource to all CBFP members.

 

Drexel University, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a comprehensive global research university ranked among the top 100 in the United States.  Drexel is one of America’s 15 largest private Universities, with approximately 25,000 students. Originally an engineering school, Drexel is widely recognized for its innovation, rapid growth and diversification. A key component of the university’s strategic mission is to foster a network of partnerships with leading universities and institutes across the globe, including the following Institutional goals:

 

♦ Create an international hub of excellence by preparing citizens of the world who are conversant with the broad array of global opportunities and challenges. Develop courses that compare and contrast different cultures and foster cultural competencies. Offer intensive language study and encourage students to develop proficiency.

♦ Grow global experiential learning by building exchange partnerships, dramatically increasing cooperative education experiences, and expanding opportunities for international engagement.

♦ Develop platforms for innovation in international research and education, establishing partnerships, centers and networks with selected universities, research institutions, technology parks and industries, based on faculty expertise.

♦ Facilitate faculty collaborations in global knowledge creation and problem solving through a variety of initiatives, encouraging faculty to develop and cultivate international networks of colleagues to advance their research programs, and inviting preeminent international faculty to work on Drexel’s campuses.

 

Drexel’s membership application has been found consistent with the CBFP cooperation framework with details provided in the following areas:


To promote the well-being of local populations through sustainable development and sound management of forest resources and the conservation of the exceptional biodiversity of Central African Forests…

 

Drexel University hosts two regional researches and education program in central Africa. The Bioko Biodiversity Protection program (BBPP) was founded in 1998 and has developed into an academic partnership between Drexel and the National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE). BBPP’s programs  encompass: (i) educational programs, especially those that bring students, faculty and research scientists from the United Sate and other countries to teach, learn, and investigate directly with UNGE students  and faculty; (ii) research programs with UNGE that involve training and employing local people to monitor the bush meat market, to survey protected forests and beaches, to manage the analysis of data and  to write reports, and (iii) hands-on-conservation activities that demonstrate the economic value of wildlife, including opportunities for local people to census wildlife for scientists, to guide visitors who come to see wildlife, and to sell locally produced artifacts to those visitors.  For ten years, the ExxonMobil Foundation has been a major source of support for the BBPP.

 

Drexel is also a founding member of the Central African Biodiversity Alliance (CABAlliance), an academic and governmental partnership that unites American, Cameroonian, Equatoguinean and Gabonese researchers, government officials and conservation professionals around a collaborative research, educational and outreach program. Program staff is located at three universities in the US. This group includes Drexel University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of New Orleans. The overarching goals of this program are to:  1) develop an integrated framework into policy recommendations of central African Biodiversity under climate change; 2) translate this framework into policy recommendations for central African governments and 3) promote opportunities for international collaboration and training in a new generation of biodiversity and environmental scientists.  CABAlliance grew out of an award from the National Science Foundation (Award 1243525) and has received additional support from the Arcus Foundation.

 

To integrate our actions into national and regional programs of COMIFAC Member States to ensure greater engagement of all States for optimal sustainability of projects results…

 

The BBPP has the longest record (15 years) of successful programs in Equatorial Guinea, actually initiated by a $50,000 grant from CARPE in 1996. The BBPP entered into the first and now, longest continuous academic partnership with UNGE as the foundation for sustainable conservation strategies. The partnership has been successful in protecting the diverse forests and coasts of Bioko Island even in the face of rapid economic development. This partnership has benefited Equatorial Guinea in a number of ways, including rapid growth of UNGE’s College of Environmental Sciences and the establishment of the Moka Wildlife Center, the Country’s first and only biological field research station now staffed by two Drexel’s activities through research and educational collaborations with universities and complementary organizations in other central Africa Countries.

 

To support institutional capacity-building and strengthening international capacity-building activities…

 

Drexel’s Involvement in Equatorial Guinea represented unusually challenging circumstances. The country was isolated by both language and politics from advances taking place in neighboring countries. The BBPP has an especially strong record of supporting institutional capacity building activities. Through its relationship with UNGE, the BBPP and Drexel have hosted a range of institutional capacity building activities, including an environmental sciences study abroad program at UNGE that partners Equatoguinean and American Study-abroad students for the last twelve years, sponsoring graduate studies for African students at affiliated US universities, training local people in census techniques for forest & beach wildlife patrols, and sponsoring a microeconomic enterprise that markets handicraft of the women of Ureca and Moka. The BBPP was also instrumental in bringing UNGE up to speed in a number of areas, like providing the university with its first reliable independent satellite-based internet connection. Drexel’s faculty have also provided leadership in international capacity building activities, including hosting several workshops that formed a solid foundation for the development of  regional research and educational frameworks focused on biodiversity conservation. Drexel is now poised to promote greater engagement of Equatoguinean scientists in regional biodiversity research and educational efforts, as well as to scale up its international research and educational activities to serve a wider population in central Africa, especially Cameroon and Gabon.  Over the next five years, Drexel will co-host a number of international educational-and capacity-building activities in Cameroon and Gabon with our CABAlliance partners.

 

To devote particular attention to the increased involvement of civil society and private sector stakeholders in biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of Central African forest ecosystems…

 

The BBPP has been especially active in this category. The BBPP supports biodiversity conservation “awareness-campaigns” throughout the island, conducts outreach with schools through study abroad courses, and facilitates the participation of volunteers from all over the world to assist with research activities. The program has also created, partnerships with local people including a number of activities, most notably the “Bioko Heirloom Project”. The BBPP has leveraged the financial and logistical support of private sector stakeholders for biodiversity conservation efforts, including Mobil Equatorial Guinea Inc., Hess Oil Company, Equatorial Guinea Land and Natural Gas, Marathon, Atlantic Methanol, and Noble Energy. BBPP’s partnerships with the private sector have also included consultancies with some of these companies on environmental issues, including beach protection (oil spills) and road construction (providing safe passage for animals).

 

To participate in national and regional consultation processes to guarantee greater transparency in the management of the forest/environmental sector in COMIFAC Member states…

 

The BBPP contributed to promoting transparency in the management environmental sector in several ways, including most recently, being the only conservation organization invited to speak  at the recent “Emerging equatorial Guinea” conference. This conference brought together an international group of business investors, and BBPP personnel were asked to describe the economic potential of conserving Bioko’s biodiversity. In addition, Drexel faculty members also serve as consultants for a variety of national and international agencies. For example, Drs. Mary Katherine Gonder and Dr. Gail Hearn both serve as members of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and Dr. Gonder serves on the for  Section on Great Apes for Primate Specialist Groups and is a member of the Great Ape Survival Project (GrASP). In addition, Dr. Gonder regularly consults with the government of Nigeria and Cameroon on implementation of the regional action plan for the Nigeria-Cameron chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti)

 

To commit to sharing information and research data for effective coordination of their activities at the local, national and regional levels…

 

The guiding principle of the central Africa programs at Drexel includes substantial collaboration at the local, national and international levels. BBPP personnel regularly share research data with UNGE faculty, coauthor papers and posters with UNGE faculty. The BBPP also shares information frequently at the national level. Activities in this regard include, hosting annual undergraduate research symposia for UNGE and DSA students that is co-hosted by the US Embassy, which attracts a diverse and influential international audience from oil companies in annual meetings, and most importantly, produces an extensive report every five years on the status of Bioko’s wildlife which is distributed at government offices, oil companies and embassies. The government or Equatorial Guinea has richly rewarded these efforts, and in 2014 appointed the first government-supported  liaison to consult  with the BBPP on environmental issues. Similarly, faculty and staff associated with the CABAlliance regularly engage in collaborative research and educational activities with African university faculty and wildlife authorities, including data collection, analysis and manuscript preparation from projects presently centered upon the Ebo Forest and Mbam & Djerem National Park in Cameroon.

 

 

 

Drexel University has appointed Professor Mary Katherine Gonder (newly-appointed BBPP Director and CABAlliance Co-Founder) and Dr. Shaya Honarvar ( BBPP Associate Director and CABAlliance Drexel Coordinator) as contact persons to represent Drexel University. Professor Gonder will serve as the focal point and consult the Official website of Drexel University: http://www.drexel.edu  

 

 

Welcome to our New Partner: “Drexel University”!

 

 

 

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