Zoom: RAPAC celebrates 10th anniversary
30 May 2010, Libreville. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Réseau des Aires Protégées d'Afrique Centrale (Central Africa protected areas network – RAPAC) and make a contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB 2010), a series of activities was held in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), the B to B Agency, the national and international NGOs Amis du Pangolin, Eau Claire, Image Gabon, Smithsonian Institute, PROTOMAC (programme to protect sea turtles in Central Africa) and Radio Emergence (the official radio station for the event). On Friday, 21 May, a televised round table took place on ‘Biodiversity conservation and management in Central Africa’. The debate gave participants an opportunity to take stock of initiatives to improve biodiversity conservation and management. It also turned the spotlight on actions carried out to assist local populations. Particular attention was paid to the partners, focusing on the global challenges of biodiversity conservation and climate change. Participants also took a look at possible activities for the years ahead (2010-2020).
The panel of guests invited to take part in the ceremony included: Jean Michel Sionneau, Regional Coordinator, ECOFAC IV (Central Africa forest ecosystems); Jean Pierre Agnangoye, Executive Secretary, RAPAC; Michel Pré, Regional Coordinator for Forests and the Environment, French Embassy in Gabon; Mohamed Bachiri, Regional Representative, UNESCO; Martin Tadoum, Deputy Executive Secretary, COMIFAC (Central African forest commission); Honoré Tabuna, representative of the Secretary General, ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States); Omer Ntougou, Communications Director, ANPN (national parks agency of Gabon); Nathalie Nyare Ossima, Forest Officer, WWF Gabon; Didier Nils, representative of the European Commission; a representative of the Ambassador of the United States to Gabon; a representative of the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a representative of the Ambassador of Cameroon; a representative of the Ambassador of Japan; and a representative of the Ambassador of Sao Tome and Principe.
Wednesday, 26 May: a one-day ‘Youth and Biodiversity’ event was held, featuring activities related to water and the great apes. The event brought to a close the third phase of a tour showcasing a learning toolkit developed to raise awareness about the great apes, with technical support from the Jane Goodall Institute. Representatives of Image Gabon Nature explained to the young audience that the only way to lessen pressure on biodiversity is to develop environmental awareness and education programmes. The Hirondelle Club of the Quaben Notre Dame school performed a play.
On Saturday, 5 June, a big school ‘carnival parade’ with a wildlife theme took place. The parade’s aim was to educate and raise the awareness of primary school children and the general public about protecting threatened diversity, an issue of great importance for local populations. The parade was opened by the circus Cirque de l’Équateur and the Kamba Picasso painting workshop. The highlight of the parade was a procession of 300 children all dressed up as gorillas, owls, panthers, elephants and tortoises, chosen for the symbolic significance they have for the local populations. The costumes were made out of recycled materials. The parade was attended by the following dignitaries: the Managing Director of the Méridien Ré-Ndama hotel, the Executive Secretary of the RAPAC, the Director General for the Environment and a representative of the Ministry of National Parks. The key message of the event was: ‘safeguarding the future of our planet means raising the awareness of young people – they will be responsible for biodiversity management in the times ahead’. Alongside the event, an exhibition was held, with stands hosted by RAPAC, the Jane Goodall Institute and PROTOMAC.
To celebrate World Environment Day, the final of the Environment Trophy tennis tournament was held on 5 June at 4 pm. As in the first edition of the tournament, the teams were named after protected areas. Fifty-six players forming twenty-eight doubles teams took part. The winning team Pongara beat the Plateaux Batéké team in 3 sets 6-1, 3-6 and 6-2. The trophy was presented to the winners by a representative of the Gabonese Tennis Federation (FEGATEN). Extensive media coverage of these events was provided by Brice Ndong, journalist for the magazine Coopération Internationale (chair and co-organiser of the round table), Sylvaire Nguimbi, journalist for Radio Télévision Nazareth and Jean Madouma, environmental journalist for the daily newspaper L’Union (written press). The television networks RTG1, RTG2, Télé Africa, TV+ and RTN and the daily newspaper Gabon Matin also covered the events.
Florence Palla, Laetitia Noulale, Macaire Edou Ndong, Sandrine Mahé, Elisabeth Ogoula, Brice Ndong, Emmanuel Chartrain, Félicien Boulende, Jules Ntoutoume
Written by the Executive Secretariat of the RAPAC, translated to English by GTZ