Seminar: Habitat Restoration for Volcanoes National Park Expansion project



Seminar: Habitat Restoration for Volcanoes National Park Expansion project
Speaker : Thomas Launer, a master's candidate in Forestry at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, USA


When: Wednesday, 1 August 2018 at 3:00 PM.

Where: Office of the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management (CoEB) across from the Huye Bus Station.



Biography for Thomas Launer


Thomas is pursuing a Master of Forestry degree at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in the USA.  While at Yale, he hopes to learn how to apply forestry science to the complex relationship between biodiversity conservation and human livelihoods, specifically in the realm of forest landscape restoration.  His interest in the field was inspired by experiences in East Africa, first conducting research on the impacts of human settlements on wildlife corridors in Tanzania, and later working as the director for a reforestation NGO in Ethiopia.



Habitat Restoration for Volcanoes National Park Expansion Project




The Rwandan government has announced an ambitious plan to expand Volcanoes National Park as a means of securing the long-term viability of mountain gorillas.  Though the population of gorillas has been documented to be growing, they remain critically endangered and menaced by threats such as disease transfer, transboundary insecurity and climate change.  While a larger park could address these issues, this project has exposed some important challenges for Rwanda’s ability to quickly and successfully restore natural habitat: a forestry sector dominated by a few exotic tree species, low levels of native seed supply and propagation techniques, a lack of codified knowledge on the regeneration and phenology of Afromontane forest, among others. My research here is fairly broad and encompasses: a stocktaking of relevant actors and stakeholders, visits to nearby restoration sites, interviews with experts, researchers and government agencies, and literature review.  Overall, I will seek to provide a set of pragmatic recommendations which can be leveraged for effective, short- and long-term restoration strategies for habitat restoration. In addition to some of my initial findings, I will present some background on global and national restoration goals, common restoration strategies, theories and trajectories, and important research questions that have yet to be addressed in the Virunga landscape.



Biography for Petra Finkenbein,  M.Sc. Cyamudongo-Project


since 01/2017  project coordinator of the Cyamudongo project; scientific assistant at the Rwanda-Center and office for Africa-Cooperations of the University Koblenz-Landau

02/2013 – 09/2014 guest scientist at the department of community ecology of the Helmholtz centre for environmental research (UFZ)

06/2012 – 11/2012 scientific assistant of the research group „Biology/Ecology“ at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg

05/2008 – 01/2013 scientific assistant at the department for community ecology of the Helmholtz centre for environmental research (UFZ); working within the “Research Association for mining and Environment in Vietnam (RAME project)” in order to develop a sustainable revegetation concept for hard coal mining areas.

06/2006 – 08/2007 graduate assistant at the department of vegetation ecology of the Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen

10/2001 – 09/2007 Study of geoecology at the TH Fridericana Karlsruhe and the Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen.
Diploma thesis: „Lythrumsalicaria – success of an invasive plant species in ist native and introduced range“








“Conservation of biodiversity and natural resources and climate protection by sustainable agriculture and forestry at Cyamudongo Forest – CYAMUDONGO PROJECT”


Cyamudongo is an isolated forest relict which belongs to the Nyungwe National Park since 2004. It harbors a high biodiversity and is home to numerous endemic plant and animal species, whereby some of the species are endemic to the Albertine Rift, to Rwanda or are even only found in Cyamudongo forest. However, this 300 ha small forest is threatened by unsustainable land use practices, exploitation of natural resources, climate change and the spread of exotic species. The “Cyamudongo Project” of the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany and funded in line of the International Climate Initiative by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety aims at improving food security and access to fire wood for the local population, thereby reducing the anthropogenic impacts on the natural resources of the forest. As a consequence the biodiversity is protected and an important carbon sink conserved. In addition, the project recognizes the importance of awareness raising and capacity building. Therefore, the project implements trainings on agroforestry and biodiversity and establishes an agroforestry buffer zone around the forest as well as an agroforestry corridor between Cyamudongo and Nyungwe forests. So far -till July 2018- the project established six tree nurseries with a production capacity of 380.000 seedlings per year in the project area, conducted trainings for 2,100 farmers and converted over 1,700 ha of agricultural land to sustainable agroforestry systems. Additionally, semi-annual surveys of plant diversity and a systematic monitoring of anthropogenic disturbances have been implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of the project activities. The overall evaluation of the project is supported by two PhD projects and several survey studies such as on farmer acceptance and nature-based tourism. The project has experienced a great appreciation by the participating farmers, rangers as well as local authorities.


For further information:

Prof. Dr. Eberhard Fischer (

Siegmar Seidel (


Date of Event: 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018 at 3:00 PM