Albertine Rift region

The Albertine Rift (AR) is the western branch of the Great Rift Valley of Africa and it extends from the northern end of Lake Albert to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika, and encompasses lands on both sides of the rift and straddling several countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia.The AR is endowed with a variety of ecosystems ranging from the snow-capped Mt Rwenzori, montane, mid altitude and lowland forests, savannahs and woodlands and several streams and rivers that drain into the numerous wetlands lakes.

The Albertine Rift (AR) is the western branch of the Great Rift Valley of Africa and it extends from the northern end of Lake Albert to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika, and encompasses lands on both sides of the rift and straddling several countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia.

The AR is endowed with a variety of ecosystems ranging from the snow-capped Mt Rwenzori, montane, mid altitude and lowland forests, savannahs and woodlands and several streams and rivers that drain into the numerous wetlands lakes.

As the name indicates, ARCOS was established for primary focus in the Albertine Rift region, one of the most bio-diverse regions of the African continent. However, the region is also heavily threatened as a result of poverty and human demography leading to deforestation and animal poaching. There is also the challenge of policy and law implementation, especially on oil and mining in the protected areas and peat extraction in wetlands.

ARCOS has spearheaded stakeholders engagement in the Albertine Rift since 1999 when the first Albertine Rift Regional Forum was organised. In 2007, ARCOS developed a regional biodiversity monitoring framework to harmonise all biodiversity monitoring efforts in the region that culminated to the Albertine Rift Biodiversity Portal launched in 2014, supported by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between biodiversity data holders in the region to share their data and exchange information.

We facilitate a strong network of practitioners in the region involved in different fields (EIA, Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus (WEF), Information Management, Civil Society, etc.). Our landscape approach in field interventions is a holistic approach integrating ecological, economic and social aspects necessary to meet the needs of people and nature. The Landscape approach focuses on three characteristics of the landscape: 1) Structure (what kind of systems that exist), 2) Function (flows of energy and how the systems interact), and 3) Change -how this affects the systems over time.

Our approach is collaborative: In each landscape, we help stakeholders to come together to understand the importance of biodiversity, and threats affecting them, and to monitor the changes. Our approach aims to protect biodiversity and restore ecosystem services and to enhance sustainable livelihoods through Nature Based Community Enterprises (NBCEs). Our approach is based on science and information to guide decision-making: ARCOS has developed a participatory Integrated Landscape Assessment and Monitoring (ILAM) model, using the State-Pressure-Response Framework.

In each landscape of focus, ARCOS strives to achieve the following:

1. Promote and support collaborative actions at all levels

2. Strive for the protection of biodiversity and restoration of ecosystems and their services

3. Work with communities to enhance their sustainable livelihoods

4. Empower stakeholders to take informed decisions and address environmental challenges