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TRANS-BOUNDARY COLLABORATION – A TOOL TO CONSERVE BIODIVERSITY AND PROMOTE PEACE?

ration on the conservation of mountain gorillas to the entire Virunga landscape including a number of national parks and reserves in the three countries. To facilitate the implementation of the trans-boundary plan, including the creation of a trans- boundary network of protected areas, a trans-boundary core secretariat was established in 2008, based in Kigali, Rwanda.

Another prominent example for trans-boundary collaboration, and equally important for the conservation of gorillas, is the Sangha Tri-national.

This landscape encompasses three na-

Results of the Virunga experience are largely as positive, as demonstrated by the fact that mountain gorilla population numbers have increased over the past 15 years despite on-going civil war in the region while other mammal populations have decreased. This success can be attributed in part to enhanced trans-boundary collaboration between the three countries and the gorillas’ revenue-generating potential for the region (Lan- jouw et. al 2001, Plumptre, 2007). There are other benefits as well: When the political relationships between the three coun- tries were difficult, technical cooperation between the three protected area authorities did not stop. In fact, by achieving collaboration between countries with difficult relationships, conservation often provides an easy to agree upon common objective for cooperation and peace-building. Another example refers to the 2002 eruption of the volcano Nyiragongo near Goma, DR Congo. Collaboration among different conservation partners in and outside DR Congo quickly helped to bring in humanitarian aid when a large proportion of the city of Goma was destroyed by lava.

The positive experience with trans-boundary work in the Virun- gas encouraged the three governments to expand the collabo-

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tional parks, Lobéké in Cameroon, Dzanga Ndoki in Central Af- rican Republic and Nouabalé Ndoki in the Republic of Congo. Sangha Tri-national was formalized in 2000 when the three governments agreed to cooperatively manage the landscape. Together with the surrounding buffer zones, this landscape is home to the largest populations of forest elephants and goril- las. At the Heads of State Summit, held in Brazzaville, February 2005, the three governments reached an agreement that facili- tates cross border anti-poaching operations. The next major step was the establishment of a trust fund in March 2007 to ensure sustained funding for core conservation activities.

The Dja-Minkebe-Odzala Trinational landscape (TRIDOM) comprises four national parks, one faunal reserve and one pro- posed national park. The four national parks are the Minkebe National Park, Ivindo National Park and Mwagne National Park in Gabon, and the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in Congo, while in Cameroon there is the Dja Faunal Reserve and the pro- posed Boumba Bek-Nki National Park. The region is home to many species of large mammals, including forest elephants, western gorillas and chimpanzees. In 2005 a TRIDOM agree- ment for trans-boundary cooperation was finalized between Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo.

The Cross River Gorillas are the most endangered gorilla subspecies. The creation of the Takamanda National Park in Cameroon represents many years of work led by Wildife Con- servation Society and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in

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