A research project led by a student from the University of Leicester has raised more than £7,000 for an expedition to the rainforests in Gabon, West Africa, to investigate the effects of commercial logging on the people living in the area.
Members of the nine-week expedition to the Minkebe Forest will leave the UK on 25 June 2000. As well as the social and economic impact of commercial logging and hunting, the research team will also consider the issue of possibilities for eco-tourism in the area.
The project, which is supported by the University of Leicester, has raised £7,225 through funding from the Royal Geographical Society (donated by traveller and broadcaster, Michael Palin), the British Council Youth Millennium Awards and UBS Warburg.
The research team includes two students from the University of Leicester, one from the University of Southampton and three Gabon nationals from Omar Bongo University, Libreville. The project has been inspired, initiated, and organised by the three UK team members with assistance from Gabon Non-Governmental Organisations (WWF-Gabon and Brainforest Gabon).
The Minkebe Forest is 31 000km2 and increasingly under threat from large-scale commercial logging. The students' objective is to assess the impact of logging on the people living in this forest that has been hailed by the World Wide Fund for Nature as “one of the last true rainforest wildernesses in Central Africa”.
Once back in the UK, expedition members will share their experiences, through workshops to schools and colleges in Leicester and Southampton, as well as by an expedition report and digital video with footage of community life in Gabon.
James Lawrie, project leader and final-year student in the University of Leicester Department of Politics, explained the importance of the expedition: “Tourists do not visit the region, yet it is home to an amazing forest rich in plant and animal life that includes gorillas, elephants and leopards. Our research will highlight the changing living conditions of local people in this region of rural Gabon. The project will contribute to an understanding of the relationship between bio-diversity, conservation, tourism and local communities.”
Note to editors: For more details contact James Lawrie, telephone 0116 223 6365 or email email@example.com
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