Dr. Jane Visits Capitol Hill

Dr. Jane Goodall spent two days in March on Capitol Hill discussing with federal policymakers the need to better coordinate international conservation and foreign assistance to developing countries.

Dr. Goodall gave two keynote addresses on the Hill and met with U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), and U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), all of whom will be key players in reforming international conservation and development assistance.

She explained that people lacking basic needs such as food, water, health care, and shelter, are compelled to overuse forest resources even if the area is protected. "All the problems that we see in villages are interrelated," said Dr. Goodall. "The poverty, the overpopulation, the hunger, the lack of good sanitation, deforestation, and so forth.  It’s no good addressing one unless you’re thinking about the other problems too."

A holistic approach 

JGI’s TACARE program in Tanzania integrates conservation and development – addressing the needs of people living in villages around Gombe through forestry, agriculture, education, health and other programs. TACARE achieves conservation results by first consulting communities about their needs and priorities, rather than by imposing solutions.

"We’ve found that conservation cannot succeed without poverty reduction; poverty reduction cannot succeed without preserving natural resources on which so many of these communities depend," said Alexandra Thornton, JGI’s Vice President of Public Policy.  "It’s actually helpful if programs under the federal government are more integrated, so that development and conservation strategies can work hand-in-hand."

Loss of forest destroys the habitat of species like chimpanzees, but also impacts human communities by reducing water quantity and quality, said Lilian Pintea, Ph.D., JGI’s Director of Conservation Science. He spoke alongside Dr. Goodall at a Hill briefing sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center, using satellite imagery to illustrate land-use patterns.  The lecture was hosted by U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, chair of the House Science Committee.

Dr. Goodall was also the keynote speaker at the International Conservation Caucus Foundation’s launch of their annual recommendations for federal funding of international conservation.

Many in the Washington policy community anticipate an overhaul of the Foreign Assistance Act during the Obama administration. They also expect federal legislation addressing climate change, including provisions aimed at preventing deforestation in tropical areas like the Congo Basin rainforest, home to the remaining populations of wild chimpanzees.


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