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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 10, 2008


U.S. Leads Ministerial Conference on Transboundary Conservation with Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda

Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science Claudia A. McMurray, in conjunction with the Central Albertine Rift Transboundary Core Secretariat will convene a ministerial conference in Gisenyi, Rwanda from July 14-15. Regional Ministers will participate in the conference, which will highlight the successes and challenges to conservation and economic development in the transboundary Virungas region, shared between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The high-level conference will also address the root causes of the tragic murder in 2007 of seven mountain gorillas, the subject of worldwide attention in the media.

The United States Government, together with other donor governments, the Central Albertine Rift Transboundary Core Secretariat and NGO partners, has supported cooperation and ongoing efforts among the governments of the countries in this region to conserve biodiversity and support development objectives laid out in a Ten Year Strategic Plan to conserve the unique natural resources of the region.

Assistant Secretary McMurray will also travel to Goma in North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to support the park rangers’ conservation efforts in the critically endangered wildlife of the Virunga National Park, the first national park to be established in Africa. This area is home to scores of unique species, including the mountain gorilla, which have declined dramatically in population due to the region’s ongoing armed conflict, poaching, demographic pressures, and habitat disturbance.

“The remarkable dedication of our conservation partners in Virunga, despite many dangers, deserves wide recognition. We believe that conservation can play an integral role in establishing stability and supporting economic development in the region.” said Assistant Secretary of State Claudia A. McMurray.

U.S. support to conservation in the Virunga National Park has been ongoing since 2003 through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Central African Regional Program for the Environment and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). For further information on CBFP please visit http://www.sdp.gov/sdp/initiative/congo/

2008/562


Released on July 10, 2008

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