Welcome to our new partner Ghent University, Department of Green Chemistry and Technology and Department of Environment!
Belgium 16 April 2018. Ghent University, Department of Green Chemistry and Technology and Department of Environment officially joined the members of the Congo Basin Forests Partnership (CBFP). As part of the accession process, Ghent University submitted the required documents and agreed to abide by the CBFP members’ cooperation framework in promoting sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa.
Ghent University is one of Belgium’s top universities, with over 40.000 students, 3.500 PhD students, more than 9.000 staff members, and 230 academic training programs. Its Agriculture and Forestry research department is ranked amongst the top 50 globally (QS Ranking), and Agriculture department is ranked 7th on the Taiwan Ranking.
Its departments have implemented several long-term research and monitoring activities on functional biodiversity and biogeochemistry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2003, resulting in 15 years of active research involvement in the Congo basin. The objectives of these research programs have been 1) to increase knowledge on Central African tropical forests and agricultural systems, and 2) to develop capacity at several local research institutes including the Universities of Kinshasa, Kisangani, Lubumbashi, and Bukavu and INERA (Institut National pour l’Etude et la Recherché Agronomique). This has resulted in a growing body of scientific papers, including several published in high-profile journals, co-authored by Belgian and Congolese researchers (> 25 ISI papers; PNAS, Nature Communications, Science Advances etc.) and in 3 PhD degrees already obtained by Belgian or Congolese researchers, with another 5 PhD programs ongoing. Through Belgian and European funding and collaboration with Congolese partners, the departments have also managed to set up several soil laboratory facilities in Bukavu and Kisangani, which are now operational and independently run by the host institutes. Altogether, these activities are well aligned with axis II (Sustainable management and utilization of forest resources), axis III (Sustainable conservation and utilization of biodiversity) and axis V (Capacity building and research development) of COMIFAC’s Convergence Plan.
Secondly, Ghent University, the Department of Green Chemistry and Technology and Department of Environment have been actively engaged in USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) partners in the region, supporting land use planning and REDD+ project activities. As such, the departments have been active partners in a project focusing on conservation planning and REDD+ in the Maringa-Lopori-Wamba Landscape (located in central DRC) and led by the African Wildlife Foundation, in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.
Finally, both departments are now the scientific directors of a key component of a new European project in the Kisangani region led by CIFOR (‘YPS – Yangambi Pôle Scientifique’), in which the UGent consortium is responsible for implementing an eddy-covariance tower – the first of its kind in Central Africa – in the UNESCO Man and Biosphere reserve of Yangambi. The tower will enable our international collaboration (DRC – UGENT/Belgium – CGIAR/CIFOR – UNESCO/ERAIFT) to carry out high-quality long-term monitoring of the greenhouse gas balance of Central African forests, and hence help for the first time to determine and explain CO2-equivallent source-sink relationships for representative forests of the Congo Basin. This scientific advance will be high valuable in feeding information directly to all regional REDD+ programs.
The Belgium Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forests Partnership is very pleased to welcome its partner, Ghent University, Department of Green Chemistry and Technology and Department of Environment as a new CBFP member. Welcome to our new partner!
Prof. Dr. Pascal Boeckx
Prof. Dr. Hans Verbeeck