Rwanda to get its first national Biodiversity Information System

    By    HAGABIMANA Eugene   on 01 Jun 2020

The Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management (CoEB) was officially located at the College of Science and Technology, University of Rwanda in 2017, after much stakeholder discussions and assessments supported by UNESCO and the Rwanda Commission for the UNESCO (CNRU). The idea for the creation of the center (CoEB) originated from the first International Research Conference on Biodiversity, which took place in Kigali in July 2007. During his speech at this conference, H.E. the President of the Republic of Rwanda introduced the idea of the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management. The Head of state tasked all stakeholders in environment and biodiversity to develop a center with a mission to develop and generate knowledge through research and monitoring in biodiversity and natural resources. 

During the three years since its formal designation at University of Rwanda, the Center has published many research papers and hosted many workshops on biodiversity. Today, the CoEB is developing the first Rwanda Biodiversity Information System (RBIS) with a three year grant from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation in the amount of 334,000 USD. The vision is to make biodiversity data accessible for research , for education, land use planning and management, to inform policy and tourism activities, and for early detection of environmental change. Biodiversity, the variety of life on earth including plants, animals, human beings, and the interactions among these, is critical to the provisioning of ecosystem services upon which humans rely – clean water, erosion control, pollination, clean air, soil fertility, etc.

During the interview with Professor Kaplin Beth, director of the Center, she tells us the origin of the project and its advantages for biodiversity management. 


Q1. Why was the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management entrusted to the UR ?

The Government of Rwanda entrusted the Center to the UR after a series of stakeholder meetings, because it is an academic institution with BSc and MSc training programs in Biodiversity Conservation, with students and academics who conduct research. Furthermore the university has a mission of teaching, research and outreach. The Center is serving as a link between biodiversity, science and policy.


Q2 : What is national Biodiversity Information System ?

This project will make all Rwandan biodiversity information available. With this biodiversity information system the Center and any system users will be able to produce maps showing the distribution of plant and animal species in Rwanda, along with land uses and other data layers. Maps will show places to be protected, change over time based on selected bio indicators, and help decisions makers in environment protection. We are creating a community of practice for biodiversity data sharing, management and application in the country with this RBIS.

Q3 : What are advantages of a national Biodiversity Information System for the country and region ?

Rwanda and the whole region will have science based required information on biodiversity to help in planning development, tourism, resource management and detection of change over time based on changes in biodiversity. The system will also help to mobilize local populations who can participate in monitoring and environmental protection. The main threat to biodiversity is human activities.


More information on Rwanda’s biodiversity center : https://coebiodiversity.ur.ac.rw/


The photos below show examples of CoEB Research Associates and Research Fellows collecting biodiversity data useful as bioindicators of ecosystem health for Rwanda

Interview conducted by HAGABIMANA Eugène

In charge of Public Relations and community engagement

UR/Huye campus

pro.huye@ur.ac.rw/ +250784595833


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