Developing a freshwater biodiversity information system for sustainable development and climate change adaptation in Rwanda

Lake Bisoke is one of hundreds of lakes in Rwanda, critical sources of freshwater.

The JRS Biodiversity Foundation has awarded $299,630 to The Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management (CoEB), hosted at the University of Rwanda. CoEB will use this grant award to develop a Rwandan Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (RBIS) to support decision-making for conservation and sustainable use of Rwanda’s freshwater resources. The project is part of JRS’ Freshwater Biodiversity and Resources Program to increase the access to freshwater biodiversity data in sub-Saharan Africa.

This project focuses on the Mukungwa catchment in northern Rwanda, which provides hydroelectricity, mitigation of heavy rainfall events, threatened and endemic species habitat, and other important ecosystem services. This highly populated mountainous region is undergoing agricultural intensification and is already experiencing effects of climate change, including an increase in flooding and erosion. There is a clear need for freshwater biodiversity information to guide sustainable development decisions. CoEB’s RBIS will be a modified version of the Freshwater Research Centre’s Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (FBIS), tailored to the needs of Rwandan stakeholders. The RBIS will include biodiversity records and collections, a resource site, analytic and mapping capacity, and thematic modules. This system will launch in close partnership with the Government of Rwanda and provide solutions for both scientists and policy makers, with functionality that addresses the need for data accessibility, as well as ready-to-use information. CoEB intends to extend this system to all of Rwanda to aid in meeting economic transformation and sustainable development goals.

CoEB is a research institute at University of Rwanda in College of Science and Technology that provides a link between science and policy in support of SDGs. The Center functions as a consortium with node institutions in Rwanda and the region and focuses on Research and Monitoring, Education and Awareness Raising, and Bioprospecting. This project will be led by the University of Rwanda’s Dr. Elias Bizuru, and Director of CoEB, Dr. Beth Kaplin.