By Bridget Conneely - Gorongosa National Park has the twin goals of saving the biodiversity on Mount Gorongosa and also helping the human communities living there to increase their living standards. It is a story of hope, determination, perseverance against formidable odds, and yes, the occasional setback and heartbreak. Professor E.O. Wilson, acclaimed scientist and author, wrote about Mount Gorongosa for the June, 2013 issue of their magazine.
Photo: Overlooking Mount Gorongosa (by Paul Kerrison)
Professor Wilson joined the conservation effort of the greater Gorongosa ecosystem in 2011. As a biologist who wants to save life on earth, he wanted to know what undiscovered species live in this largely unexplored Park. With the help of his local field assistant, Tonga Torcida, he organized the local children on Mount Gorongosa to help him collect whatever they could find. The diversity of small creatures on Mount Gorongosa was astounding and he considers Gorongosa to be
“…ecologically, the most diverse park in the world.”
Photo: E.O. Wilson on Mount Gorongosa’s BioBlitz (copyright Joel Sartore/National Geographic)
Professor Wilson recognized that Mount Gorongosa is important not only for its endemic species, but also because it represents a large portion of the water catchment of the Park. The rainforest soaks up moisture during the wet season and waters Gorongosa’s vast plains during the dry season. Without intervention, this sacred forest may be gone forever and rivers supplying water to the wildlife in the valley below would dry up.
Photo: One of the many rivers that flow from Mount Gorongosa’s rainforest (by Piotr Naskrecki)
But this is a story of hope. The heroes of this story are the hard-working Mozambican men and women who wake up every morning to plant trees on Mount Gorongosa. This team, led by Pedro Muagura, plants many thousands of native saplings each year to slowly rebuild the lost forest. Other heroes of this story are the many generous people who donate each year to plant trees on Mount Gorongosa. Without your help, these local foresters wouldn’t have jobs and a very special corner of our Earth would be lost forever.
Photo: Tree planters on Mount Gorongosa (by James Byrne)
Since that first visit, Professor Wilson has written a book about Gorongosa (to be released next year), organized further biological surveys with top scientists from around the world, and developed chapters about Gorongosa in his new digital biology textbook, Life on Earth. We are naming our new research laboratory after Professor Wilson in honor of his vision, leadership and assistance to our cause.
The article in National Geographic Magazine, titled “The Rebirth of Gorongosa” by E.O. Wilson hit the stands in the U.S. and Canada on May 28th. Get your copy at your local newsstand or subscribe to the iPad, iPod or Kindle Fire edition.
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