when Africa suffered from droughts and from
colder temperatures. Consequently, it is an
extremely important area that has to be
conserved in case there are significant changes
in climate again; this is because it is guaranteed
that rainforests can resist such modifications.
“On the other hand, it’s also the region where
we have the source of the Nile and where many
tributaries run into the Congo River, and so it is
extremely important, not only for Rwanda, but
also for the whole African continent – as well
With extensive scientific connections in both
Europe and Africa, Fischer is very keen to reap
the benefits and realise the resources of the
EU’s latest research and innovation framework
programme. He sees the biodiversity study
undertaken in Rwanda as the type of project
bserving the changes in biodiversity is a major
indicator of the long term impact of climate change.
With the Earth already having experienced both rising
and falling temperatures, assessing the adjustments in
biodiversity can help provide clues to how humans need to adapt
in a changing environment.
Professor Dr Eberhard Fischer has just returned from a study trip to
Rwanda, his 80th trip to the sub-Saharan African state. The researcher is
one of Europe’s leading scientists in the field and leads the botany and
biodiversity working group at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany.
After returning, Portal spoke to Fischer, who began by detailing the reasons
for his visit and the wide-ranging research network he has developed during
his frequent trips to the country: “The first purpose was to accompany a
delegation of the Minister of Environment of the federal state of Rhineland-
Palatinate, Ulrike Höfken, who wanted to see some of our projects. The
second part of the trip was to renew contact with partners and undertake
research in the rainforest, which lasted over a week.
“I’ve been travelling to Rwanda for 31 years and have built longstanding
co-operation not only with the Rwandan Development Board, which is
responsible for the national parks, but also with the Rwandan Ministry
of Natural Resources, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority
and the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority.”
Fischer then detailed two major projects he has undertaken during his
recent visits, focusing on agri-forestry and biodiversity.
“The first project ended last year in August. It was financed by the
German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation,
Building and Nuclear Safety and focused on climate protection. The aim
of the project was to help build up the agri-forestry belt in the southeast
of the Nyungwe National Park, which is home to one of the most diverse
rainforests in Africa.
“Our agro-forestry research saw us use mainly indigenous trees, though
also exotic trees, in helping develop the belt. The farmer is expected to
plant the trees on their fields to help encourage agro-forestry systems
that are of benefit for the conservation of soil, thus reducing erosion.
Many rainforest ecosystems can be protected by agro-forestry systems,
for example fuel wood and medicinal plants.
“The second project was a biodiversity study of the rainforest in the
context of climate change. Nyungwe National Park and mountain forest
are one of these refugal areas that survived during the last glacial period
I S S U E S E V E N
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA Lwww.horizon2020projects.com
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : C L I M AT E A C T I O N
Portal, Professor Dr Eberhard Fischer,
of the University of
Koblenz-Landau, provides an insight into his research ventures in Rwanda and
how he hopes to secure financing from Horizon 2020
Professor Dr Eberhard
The forests of Rwanda
are home to rich and