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East Africa’s Albertine Rift needs protection now, scientists say

15 / 02 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

The equatorial ecosystems of the Albertine Rift are packed with plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. Formed as tectonic plates in eastern Africa have slowly pulled away from each other for millions of years, the unique habitats in this epicenter of biodiversity have rapidly come under threat in recent decades from conflict, poverty and a booming human population. Now, a coalition of conservation groups is working with authorities to mobilize a plan to protect the cloud and lowland rainforests, the lakes and rivers, and the savannas and wetlands that stretch from Lake Albert south to Lake Tanganyika. The six landscapes of the Albertine Rift. Image courtesy of WCS. “The Albertine Rift is the most important site for vertebrate conservation in Africa, with more endemic and globally threatened vertebrates than any other region of the continent,” Andy Plumptre, a conservation biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Africa program and the paper’s lead author, said in a statement. WCS, in concert with local NGOs and the governments of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, has pulled together research spanning 16 years. They’ve used these investigations to better understand the six geographic landscapes selected for the high concentrations of unique and threatened species they contain, and they’ve put forth detailed plans to protect them. According to the report, the scientists estimate that it will cost about $21 million a year to set their proposals in motion, a figure they argue “offers a greater ‘bang for the buck’…

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