FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Claire Gwatkin Jones
Phone: (703) 682-9220
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Jane Goodall Institute has announced a new plan to expand its community-centered conservation efforts in Western Tanzania. A three-year $2.1 million grant from the Jay Pritzker Foundation will allow JGI to scale up its operations to the threatened Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem, a region containing wild chimpanzee populations south of the Institute’s Greater Gombe Ecosystem (GGE) Project area.
Emil Kayega, formerly principal environmental officer in the office of Tanzania Vice President’s Office, will lead the project as program director.
The primary goal of the project is to achieve long-term conservation of wild chimpanzee populations and other endangered species through a network of community reserves that will connect forest patches with existing national parks and reserves. The Institute will work closely with communities of permanent residents and refugees to address their needs, provide incentives for participation, and help the local population understand the importance of protecting forests, not only for biodiversity conservation purposes but also as an important source of forest products and a vital water catchment area.
The 2,223 square-mile Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem lies between Gombe National Park (site of Jane Goodall’s famous chimpanzee research) and Mahale Mountains National Park. The area is home to an estimated 540 chimpanzees, as well as other endangered primates and threatened species such as elephants. The region has a largely intact natural resource base, but it is facing increasing threats from human population pressures in the region.
"It’s urgent that this large, ecologically important area of Tanzania be protected," said JGI Executive Vice President of Africa Programs Keith Brown. "While the area is still largely intact, it is facing unmanaged population growth startlingly similar to that which devastated the forests and wildlife further north over the past 20 years. Had we been able to undertake a program of systematic planning, community development, support for sustainable livelihoods and conservation education when Jane Goodall first came to the region in 1960, we wouldn’t be facing the crisis we’re now struggling with in the deforested areas around Gombe."
JGI’s work in and around Gombe National Park through the GGE Project focuses on arresting the rapid degradation of remaining indigenous forests and biodiversity through sustainable natural resource management and rural production systems. Expanding JGI’s conservation efforts and development initiatives from the Greater Gombe Ecosystem to the forests and hills of the Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem will substantially improve the daily lives of tens of thousands of people, while increasing the prospects for the long-term survival of wild chimpanzees and other wildlife.
In the first year of the project, JGI will conduct extensive data collection, coordination and review and establish relationships with various stakeholders at the local, district and national levels. JGI hopes to use its expertise in remote sensing and geographic information systems to map trends in forest cover in the region and to identify areas of the ecosystem with high potential as chimpanzee habitat. JGI also will conduct extensive socioeconomic surveys to determine the short- and long-term development needs of the human population and will work closely with local communities and local and regional authorities to determine what interventions local communities want and need.
The other major activity of the first year of the project will be an extensive conservation education campaign focused on the importance of biodiversity preservation and the overall health of the ecosystem. This campaign will include radio ads and programs, posters and materials for distribution and direct presentations to schools and community organizations. Roots & Shoots, JGI’s global youth program, will be introduced in schools throughout the area to build community involvement and environmental awareness among the young. The next major focus of the program will be intensive land-use planning. JGI will work with the District Council and other government and NGO partners to draft a land-use and settlement plan for the ecosystem as a whole. The plan should address the significant migration of Tanzanians into the sparsely populated district.
Once the land-use plans have been developed, JGI will begin supporting targeted economic development and social infrastructure initiatives to respond to the specific needs of local communities. This is a key element of JGI’s community-centered conservation strategy, which includes an integrated, holistic response to the biodiversity and the economic challenges facing rural populations.
JGI’s community-centered conservation initiatives typically include activities such as:
- public health and HIV/AIDS prevention programs
- the construction of schools, dispensaries and other social infrastructure facilities
- support of scholarship programs to allow local girls to attend secondary school
- the establishment of local micro-finance groups to support small-scale, environmentally friendly enterprises
- agricultural extension services focused on increasing yields, reducing erosion and protecting forest
- working closely with local farmers to identify and support the production of high-quality agricultural and natural products for export, such as forest-gathered honey.
JGI hopes the result of its community-centered interventions may include an increased range of livelihood opportunities, increased access to public health and educational resources and clean water supplies, improved local farming and forestry techniques and, by linking community forest reserves into a network of habitat corridors, the long-term conservation of chimpanzees and biodiversity in the region.
Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall's pioneering research into chimpanzee behavior – research that transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Today, the Institute is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs (TACARE) in Africa and the Roots & Shoots education program, which has groups in more than 95 countries.