International Research and Education Opportunities on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea

Friday, February 12, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Hoover (Marriott Wardman Park)
Maximilliano Fero, National University of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Bioko island is one of the three main territories from Equatorial Guinea, a west central African country with 28,050 km2. The Island is one of the world's original 25 Biodiversity Hotspots, with a dramatic landscape that extends from sea level to three peaks: Pico Basilé (3,000 m), the Gran Caldera de Luba (2,261 m) and Pico Biao (2,009 m). Over 40% of the landscape is protected and harbors distinctive ecosystems ranging from coastal vegetation, primary rainforest to montane grasslands. While Bioko island is smaller than metro Washington, D.C., it is home to a diverse array of globally-significant wildlife, including four species of nesting marine turtles and seven critically endangered monkey species. Against this backdrop, the National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE) has emerged as a leader in the environmental sciences in central Africa, engaging a global group of scientists and students through various educational initiatives, most notably including the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP, The BBPP is an academic partnership between UNGE and Drexel University, ongoing for 20 years. BBPP's mission is the conservation of Bioko Island's biodiversity through educational programs, especially at the university level with an undergraduate study abroad program in conservation biology for six months per year, that engage the faculty and students of UNGE in research and teaching activities with peers from other countries, including the United States and regionally in Central/West Africa; research programs that involve training and employing local people; and conservation activities that demonstrate the economic value of keeping wildlife alive and wild spaces intact to the people of Equatorial Guinea and the world. This long term collaboration has allowed both universities to jointly managing the Moka Wildlife Center - Equatorial Guinea's first and only continuously operating biological research station and launch additional educational initiatives centered around Bioko Island's remarkable biodiversity, including projects to document the country's plant and avian biodiversity, as well as participation in the Central African Biodiversity Alliance - a regional program devoted to training the next generation of American and central African biodiversity scientists. While resources at UNGE continue to be limited, this small university has built a solid foundation as a regional leader in the environmental sciences that is making positive contributions towards conserving the unique wildlife and landscapes of Equatorial Guinea.