Zimbabwe

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Between man and nature

Between man and nature

Between man and nature
Alexandre Caron

By Alexandre Caron, CIRAD, RP-PCP

The Research Platform ‘Production and Conservation in Partnership’ (RP-PCP) was established in 2007, formally associating the University of Zimbabwe in Harare and the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo with two French research organisations, CIRAD (Agricultural Research for Development) and CNRS (French National Research Centre).

Staff involved in the activities of the RP-PCP in 2014 make up an international multidisciplinary group of more than 50 senior researchers, academics and post-graduate students from a wide range of disciplines, including Social Sciences, Agronomy, Ecology, Geography and Veterinary Sciences.

The overall objective of the RP-PCP is to contribute to sustainable development, biodiversity conservation and improved rural livelihoods in southern Africa, through strengthening national research capacities, multidisciplinary approaches and institutional partnerships with a focus on protected areas and neighbouring area production.

The RP-PCP seeks to promote applied research on ‘wild-domestic interfaces’ in order to address issues related to the coexistence of man and nature, by mitigating development and conservation activities. This means mitigating negative interactions such as human-elephant conflict, livestock predation by wild carnivores or disease transmission between wild and domestic ungulates, and promoting opportunities such as natural resource management including wood, worms or wild species harvesting.

Our research framework seeks to understand the links between heterogeneity and sustainability of socio-ecological systems in the context of wild-domestic interfaces. Our multidisciplinary group is organised into four broad thematic areas: animal health and environment, functional ecology, conservation and agriculture, and natural resources governance and institutions.

The platform has also selected three priority areas: Gonarezhou National Park in the Greater Limpopo TFCA, Hwange National Park in the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA and the mid-Zambezi valley/Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools TFCA.

Since its beginning as a research platform, the RP-PCP has aimed to promote applied scientific studies by providing support to post-graduate students, the vast majority of them being Zimbabwean. So far, 26 postgraduate students have completed their theses (MPhil, MSc or PhD) and 38 are actively under RP-PCP supervision, including 43 Zimbabweans, 16 Europeans and 5 SADC students. Altogether, they have produced 57 research articles, 15 book chapters and more than 80 communications during international conferences and regional workshops. Some technical and expertise reports have also been produced.

The French Embassy in Zimbabwe has supported the RP-PCP since its implementation and provides the core of the funding. Co-funding of studies/expertise is also provided by members of the RP-PCP for the benefit of various projects coordinated by one of the partner institutions: EU-DREAM (see fact file), EU-GeosAf, ANR-SAVARID, FSP-RenCaRe (see fact file).

More from this issue:
ZT17 (June 2014) - Main Menu
ZT17 (June 2014) - Full Content Listing

More on transfrontier parks from this issue of the Zambezi Traveller:
Towards one health
After the fences came down
Between man and nature
Solutions for conflict with lions
Pomp and ceremony at KAZA event
Tourism, beef or both?
Simalaha gains momentum
Looking to the future