For the purpose of raising public awareness about biodiversity conservation and natural resources management, two master’s students (Mr. Mapendo Jules Mindje and Mr. Leonce Ngirinshuti) who are studying a master’s degree in Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resources Management at University of Rwanda used stories to connect people to biodiversity through an interview with Radio Salus journalist (Yves Rugira). The program broadcasted to Radio Salus during the environmental program on Tuesday 23rd Jan 2018 at 9:30 AM and Wednesday 24th Jan 2018 at 4:30 AM, Their main focus was about the issues related to biodiversity and conservation.
Mapendo’s interview on neglected biodiversity conservation
During his talk, Mr Mapendo highlighted why people should be concerned with neglected biodiversity conservation. He mentioned that, currently, conservation efforts are being invested in that fauna and flora that give a direct benefit to Human such as for consumption, raw materials and cash such as where biodiversity is taken as an income generating asset through tourism and thus ignoring some other categories of biological diversity that do not immediately satisfy the aforementioned need. These categories are what he called “Neglected biodiversity” and hence advocating for conservation. His main focus on conserving these types of biological diversity is that they are part of the food web or food chain in the ecosystem where some can be decomposers or others are directly contributing to the energy flow processes and others can be considered as biological control agents.
Mr Mapendo is interested in neglected biodiversity Photo: Mapendo
During the interview, Mr Mapendo gave some examples like earthworms such as lumbricus spp and millipedes (Ommatoiulus Latzel) as agents to change soil composition and hence enhance the soil fertility such as through burrowing soil and so create pores through which oxygen and water can enter and carbon dioxide can leave the soil. Another example is the house Geckoes that can act as a biological control of mosquitoes wherein feeding on them, reduce mosquitoes’ population, hence reducing risks of malaria. Mosquitoes are known to be vectors of Plasmodium, agent of Malaria. In his recommendation, He called the community at large to take into consideration the neglected biodiversity and avoid any issue that can threaten them.
Ommatoiulus Latzel act as an agent to change soil composition Photo: Internet
Leonce’s interview on Forest Degradation and Resources Scarcity
During his talk, Mr Leonce talked about Forest Degradation and Resources Scarcity: Anticipated Implications on Rural Children’s Schooling with two main objectives: (1)To highlight the linkage between forest degradation and children’s schooling and (2)To raise public awareness of environment protection as a potential aspect to sustainable education Deforestation is regarded among major drivers of resource scarcity and has negative impacts on the provision of other environmental services. Poor water quality, scarcity of fodder and firewood are among major impacts met with forest degradation. Children from many poor families are the household members primarily responsible for domestic environment-related activities such as firewood, fodder and water collection.
Mr Leonce talked about Forest Degradation and Resources Scarcity Photo: Leonce
Under resource-scarce conditions, children suffer from long travels and spend much more time to find these resources which affect their schooling in terms of school attendance, course revision and increased dropouts. This is particularly a great concern for low-income families whose children are asked to play part in daily livelihood activities so that they are allowed access to food. Empirical evidence shows that scarcity of natural resources contributes significantly to the low educational status especially in developing countries. This is a clear challenge particularly to school attendance given a number of hours children spend on resource-collection work. It can, therefore, be reasonable to think that programs for environmental protections can be of great contribution to increasing the likelihood of children’s school attendance. Reforestation of degraded areas, agroforestry, planting grasses for animal fodder on terraces, and substitution of firewood with fuel gas or biogas for cooking are among pertinent approaches that can help to reduce the burden of collection work while promoting school attendance.
Firewood’s collection affects children’s schooling in terms of school attendance. Photo: Internet
These two Master’s students work closely with Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management (CoEB) as Research affiliates and they intervene in CoEB activities. This delivered interview about issues related to biodiversity and conservation fit in CoEB’s Education and Awareness-raising department which usually do different activities bear on biodiversity conservation including (1)Education and outreach activities in primary& secondary schools, (2)Awareness raising activities to local communities (deliver talks about environmental conservation) (3)Organizing events (e.g.: Workshops, Training and Public talks).