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UW faculty, students aid African conservation efforts

July 24, 2012 By Chris Barncard

Faculty and students from the University of Wisconsin–Madison will lend their expertise to conservation efforts in central Africa as the first university member of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership.

The 10-year-old partnership brings together more than 40 countries, United Nations offices, non-governmental organizations and private groups to manage the forest resources and improve living conditions in the 1.5 million square miles drained by the Congo River, the world’s ninth-longest river.

The UW–Madison Division of International Studies has already supported several trips to the Congo River region.

A pair of professors — Aliko Songolo, professor of French and African languages and literature, and Don Waller, botany professor — are visiting northern Cameroon’s Ecole de Fauna Garouna this summer.  In addition, the Professional French Masters program has sent a student intern to work with the African Model Forest Network in wildlife monitoring and habitat preservation.

As UW–Madison’s links to institutions in the Congo Basin grow, the group hopes to add opportunities for student and faculty exchange and research collaborations in the areas of wildlife and habitat monitoring, community conservation and socio-economic aspects of sustainable development — all key for conserving wildlife and alleviating poverty in central Africa.