Our aim was to build awareness of the values of biodiversity, the steps we can take to conserve biodiversity and manage terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem services related to health, livelihoods and wellbeing in a way that is both equitable and sustainable. IFS believe it is important to integrate such thinking into development and poverty reduction strategies, including ways to eliminate harmful subsides, prevent extinctions and control invasive species and detrimental pollution. We were especially keen to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations of taxonomists, ecologists and social scientists to research together on ecosystem services for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. With generous support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Carolina Mac Gillavry Fund and the Belgium Science Policy Office BELSPO we were able to open the call to eligible colleagues in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
Hundreds of young scientists expressed interest and joined our online platform and 45 teams were built (many combining Francophone and Anglophone scientists), 26 submitted proposals, 13 passed pre-screening, and attended a workshop in Benin in December on collaborative research. After an exhaustive assessment involving around 50 reviews and following a meeting of the IFS Collaborative Scientific Advisory Committee the teams were informed this week about the results of their project evaluations. Nine teams involving 35 early-career scientists were awarded funding. The research to be supported within this call aims to increase and share widely knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to terrestrial and inland aquatic biodiversity.
Topics range from: the implications of forest disturbance on the prevalence of avian blood parasites; ecosystem impacts of the so-called triffid weed Chromolaena odorata (Asteraceae) invasion; impacts of uranium mining on a game reserve; conserving botanical materials with traditional medicinal and cultural values; enhancing agricultural productivity by deploying soil biodiversity conservation techniques; the effects of the occurrence of heavy metals and pesticides on water quality and aquatic organisms, as well as their biodiversity; the role of Insect species in the Ecology of Mycobacterium ulcerans;prospecting for new anti-plasmodial compounds capable of being developed into malaria drugs from Africa’s rich flora; and to understand the biodiversity of Taro in Africa and the plant’s potential as human food and livestock feed.
This is the second full pilot of the IFS Collaborative Research Approach. We congratulate all the scientists involved and look forward to a rewording period of working together.