Central African Biodiversity Alliance: Creating International Research Networks

Friday, February 12, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Hoover (Marriott Wardman Park)
Eric Fokam, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
Dr. Fokam is on the faculty at the University of Buea and will discuss challenges and opportunities for networking in the environmental sciences in Cameroon. He will also discuss how support from the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for International Research and Education program has led to the formation of the Central African Biodiversity Alliance (www.CABAlliance.org), Congo Basin Institute (http://www.environment.ucla.edu/ctr/initiatives/cbi/) and other programs to create and support an international research network for African scholars across the region. Central Africa is a biologically diverse region. Its forests are critical for regulating worldwide greenhouse gases. In the face of ongoing development pressure in Africa, countries such as Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are at a cross roads. The region’s tremendous biodiversity is under increasing threat from human activities  and climate change will impact the region’s biota.CABAlliance has sought to engage decision makers (ministers, members of parliament, local governments, national agencies, etc.) in Cameroon and Gabon through a platform that acknowledges them as influential actors of conservation, and seeks to make policy recommendations on areas with highest evolutionary potential and value to local populations. CABAllianceconstitutes a unique opportunity for Cameroonian and Gabonese faculty and students to participate in cutting-edge research activities and build local capacity in conservation science. Via its undergraduate field courses and professional development workshops, CABAlliance has developed a network that has enabled African faculty and students gain access to new skills, technology and facilities, new insight into problems, and to work in enriched learning environments. Research in CAB Alliance has equally contributed to changing some of the former social paradigms on gender that held that conservation work was essentially reserved to male investigators, by training an abundant crop of capable female conservationists. These young scholars and leaders along with their counterparts in the region and the USA have developed ties and formed networks of young scientists that we expect to outliveCABAlliance.This in turn will positively impact the next generation of young African scientists, strengthen US-African partnerships, and facilitate interactions among central African scientists.