The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory, based at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, and Coimbra University in Portugal have recently agreed to exchange researchers and enter into a long-term relationship to support scientific study in Gorongosa National Park. Greg Carr, humanitarian, philanthropist, and E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation Board of Directors member, visited Coimbra University in February 2014 to formally sign the agreement with the João Gabriel Silva, the Rector of the university. Coimbra University is the oldest university in Portugal, dating back to 1290, and houses extensive archives and collections from Africa.
Among many other exchanges, Tongai Castigo from Mozambique, who will be in charge of the Laboratory’s herbarium, will soon commence further training at Coimbra University, and Portuguese researchers will travel to the Laboratory to conduct fieldwork in the national park.
The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory, scheduled to open on March 27, 2014, will become the foundation and a hub of renewed scientific and educational activity on biodiversity in Gorongosa. As part of the broader Gorongosa Restoration Project, its main goals will be to document Gorongosa’s vast biological richness, manage its restoration, and train a new cadre of local conservationists and educators. It will coordinate a wide range of biodiversity inventories, scientific studies and restoration projects—ranging from the documentation of soil biodiversity, to tracking of lion prides, to the effectiveness of reforestation efforts on Mt. Gorongosa, to the pollination biology of canopy orchids. The Laboratory will place strong emphasis on dissemination of information about Gorongosa’s biological wealth, thus helping turn Gorongosa into a beacon of education about biodiversity conservation, and a key destination for both tourism and scientific research in Africa.