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University Of Virginia, World Wildlife Fund Join Forces For African And Latin American Conservation


May 29, 2002-- The University of Virginia and the World Wildlife Fund signed a memorandum of understanding today to work on critical environmental management issues and research in Africa, Latin America and other rapidly developing regions.

The agreement will strengthen already existing links between U.Va. and the World Wildlife Fund's U.S. office, particularly in terrestrial and marine ecosystem monitoring, assessment and policy development. The university and WWF will raise awareness on critical environmental management issues, raise the profile of important research findings and support innovative research, collaborations and monitoring programs for the most effective conservation of resources.

The agreement was signed during a three-day workshop at U.Va. involving officials from four African universities, U.Va., the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, the World Wildlife Fund and other international conservation organizations. The African universities include the University of Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, the University of Venda in South Africa, the University of Botswana and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

The purpose of the workshop for U.Va. and the African universities is to discuss conservation issues and to form a consortium with far-reaching implications in education, research, health care and public policy. U.Va.'s relationship with the World Wildlife Fund will further benefit consortium initiatives.

"The World Wildlife Fund promotes environmental research and sound land-use policy and is a natural ally for U.Va.'s research and education initiatives in southern Africa and other developing regions," said Jeffrey Plank, U.Va.'s assistant vice president for research and public service. "U.Va. has conducted environmental research in Africa for 25 years, and we have

developed strong relationships with researchers and educators there. The World Wildlife Fund shares our devotion to the study and stewardship of the environment in southern Africa and elsewhere."

The agreement between U.Va. and WWF allows the organizations to share resources to promote biodiversity and environmental management and, where possible, to cooperate and develop research projects. Representatives from U.Va.'s Center for Regional Environmental Studies and WWF's Endangered Spaces Program will meet regularly and coordinate activities. The organizations also may seek joint funding for some projects. While the understanding strengthens links between U.Va. and WWF, it does not create a joint venture or partnership between the two organizations.

"By combining forces with a world-class research institution such as the University of Virginia, WWF can enhance its efforts to save the world’s most outstanding marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats," said William Eichbaum, vice president for endangered spaces. "Africa is a natural starting point for this agreement, as it contains some of the world’s most diverse, endangered and charismatic species, and both institutions have a long history there."

Contacts: Fariss Samarrai, (434) 924-3778 or Lee Poston, (202) 778-9536

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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