Earthwatch is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its pioneering African Fellowship Programme. This unique programme provides young African scientists and conservation practitioners with intensive training placements on Earthwatch field research projects throughout Africa.
Since its inception in 1994, the programme has benefited a remarkable 750 African conservationists from over 200 institutions in 25 sub-Saharan countries.
The long term aim is to build the capacity of African conservation institutions by training their staff. With the support of partner organisations, such as the Ghana Nature Conservation Research Centre and Nature Uganda, Earthwatch is able to ensure that participants who will benefit most from the programme are selected, helping to ensure that places and resources are wisely and effectively distributed.
African fellows have participated on Earthwatch field research projects such as Wildlife Conservation in West Africa, Saving Cameroon's Rock Fowl, Lemurs & Forests of Madagascar and Mangroves of Kenya, a project visited by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai in August 2004.
Robert Llewellyn-Smith, Environmental Partnerships Manager at Earthwatch, says, ‘The Fellowship Programme was designed to respond to a need for more training for African staff working in protected areas. The programme provides fellows with improved access to developments in conservation science and the opportunity to work alongside leading scientists in the field.'
He continues, ‘It also creates a valuable forum for networking and the exchange of ideas between countries and across organisations, giving Fellows the important opportunity to exchange ideas and develop solutions to pressing environmental problems and human / wildlife conflicts that are facing African countries.'
Silayo Dossantos an MSc Student, in the Department of Forest Engineering at Sokoine University of Agriculture attended the Saving Cameroon Rock Fowl project last year. He says, ‘Being an Earthwatch research fellow in Cameroon was an exceptional opportunity for me. This was the first time I had travelled or participated in a research activity outside East Africa. It was fantastic to meet new people from six different countries with varied professional backgrounds but all with the same goal towards biological diversity conservation.'
The Earthwatch African Fellowship programme has been funded by the UK Government's Darwin Initiative, the European Commission, independent trusts and foundations and corporate bodies. Earthwatch is always looking for additional support and funding, so that this successful education concept can be developed, and extended across other continents.
For media enquiries, images and interviews please contact Zoe Gamble, Press Officer, Earthwatch, on + 44 (0) 1865 318806 / firstname.lastname@example.org