Action Plan Released to Conserve One of Africa’s Richest Sites for Biodiversity with Support from the Arcus Foundation
A team of scientists led by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has developed a conservation blueprint to protect one of the most biodiverse regions in Africa: the Albertine Rift, home to mountain and Grauer’s gorillas, golden monkeys, chimpanzees, elephants, and 162 vertebrate, and 350 plant species unique to this region.
Based on work by WCS and participants from five countries in the region, the “Conservation Action Plan for the Albertine Rift” summarizes the results of 16 years of research and commitment to the conservation of six key landscapes within the Albertine Rift, which runs through five countries (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania) and stretches from the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika to the northern tip of Lake Albert.
Building on an initial framework plan developed in 2004, the new plan highlights the importance of the region for global biodiversity and goes further to outline the main steps required for the conservation of each landscape. The plan assesses where within each landscape is most important for the conservation of the many unique and threatened species, both now and under projected climate change, and identifies which species remain unprotected.
“The Albertine Rift is the most important site for vertebrate conservation in Africa, with more endemic and globally threatened vertebrates than any other region of the continent,” said Dr. Andy Plumptre, Senior Scientist for WCS’s Africa program. “We know of 163 terrestrial vertebrates that are unique to this region and we keep discovering new species. We also know the lakes in this region have incredible fish diversity and that at least 350 species of plant are unique to the region.”
WCS has conducted surveys of the biodiversity of the Albertine Rift over decades, supporting surveys of some species and specific sites as early as 1959 in the case of eastern gorillas (one of the endemic species). A more comprehensive program started by WCS in 2000 compiled region-wide data on mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants. WCS worked with other NGO partners and the environmental protection authorities of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda to identify six key landscapes and to establish cooperative protection at ground-level in each...