UNU-LRT was well represented at the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) World Conference, held in Cape Town, South Africa at the end of September. This was the first time an African country hosted the conference and thus a good opportunity for the UNU-LRT alumni, especially from Africa, to network and present their work. UNU-LRT hosted a symposium at the conference entitled: Land restoration for improved livelihood in Africa: Challenges and opportunities. A part from the talk from the UNU-LRT Director on capacity building for restoring land, four other speakers presented their work in the symposium, among them two former UNU-LRT fellows, Mr Mulugeta Sebhatleab Tesfay from Ethiopia (fellow in 2014) and Ms Setrida Mlamba from Malawi (fellow in 2018).
Mr Gerald Eilu, a lecturer at one of the main partner institutions of UNU-LRT in Uganda, Makerere University, gave a review on land restoration training in Eastern Africa where he outlined the short courses that UNU-LRT and the Ugandan partners have developed and hosted in Uganda for the past three years. Lastly, Ms Noëline Raondry Rakotoarisoa, Chief of Section at MAB Networking, Biosphere Reserves and Capacity Building at UNESCO, introduced an approach by UNESCO´s Man and the Biosphere Programme to ecological restoration in the Lake Chad Basin area.
In addition to the two former UNU-LRT fellows mentioned above, 13 additional former fellows also attended the conference, nine from Africa and four from Central Asia. They introduced their work back home and/or their research from the UNU-LRT six-month training, either in oral presentations or in posters.
Finally, UNU-LRT represented the ENABLE consortium at the conference with a poster entitled Massive open online courses on business-driven landscape restoration. The poster presented the two massive open online courses (MOOCs) on land restoration based on sustainable business models, developed by the ENABLE consortium. The courses offer high quality education on how restoration of degraded land can provide a return of financial-, natural- and social- capital and a return of inspiration: the 4 returns approach. The online courses are available to all who can access the internet at the following sites: https://www.coursera.org/learn/landscape-restoration-sustainable-development & https://www.coursera.org/learn/bmi-sustainable-landscape-restoration.
It was a great reunion of former UNU-LRT fellows and staff and a stimulating conference where everyone found something of interest within the field of ecological restoration.