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Half the way to CONTAN’s results and goals: at what point are we?

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The mid-term report is being delivered and it’s time for CONTAN partners to take stock of the advancement of the project. And results by now are quite encouraging, despite some changes brought to the initial proposal due to pandemic restriction and some deadline that took more time than expected to be reached.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the main steps taken!

After our first kick-off meeting in March (2021), where Partner Countries, HEIs and main external stakeholders were introduced and all activities presented, we have implemented most of the relevant activities dedicated to Curricula Developing of the CONTAN project.

A first on-line workshop on e-learning courses was held with both EU and Tanzanian lecturers and technicians, as well as HEIs’ Representatives. It aimed at agreeing to define the contents of the e-learning courses to enable EU lecturers to start preparing material to populate the e-learning platform and Tanzanian partners to start the accreditation process to developing their curricula.

Rich and dedicated materials, including video recordings and online presentations as well as additional materials, have been uploaded on the on-line Moodle platform and are available to the accredited visitors on a dedicated page and ready to be used by Tanzanian students and lecturers for adoption in their regular teaching, in view of upgrading the curricula and incorporating them into their teaching. Moreover, the Moodle platform has been made accessible to non-academic staff by providing on request a dedicated password to login as guests.

Three short-term joint staff training events were also performed on-line, acted as training events for partner country HEIs’ lecturers and were functional to the promotion of the e-learning platform and the navigation of the uploaded material. Three were the main subjects  addressed: (1) Quantitative methods for ecological monitoring in the tropics, (2) Ecological monitoring and conservation biology in the tropics, and (3) Methods in taxonomy and biodiversity inventorying in the tropics, for 89 lectures in total, plus additional material for practical.

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Work has not only been done online!

A training on remote sensing was achieved in each of the three HEI for three consecutive days by one lecturer from UBT during July and August 2022. Soon after, a two-week field-based training saw the participation of 134 people (89 Tanzanian students, 27 Tanzanian and 9 EU academic staff).

The first week was at the Nkweseko Scientific Station in Moshi, Kilimanjaro which involved the participation of 4 EU lecturers from Germany (UBT), and took place for SUA between 12-16th of September, for UDSM between 18-23nd of September and for MWEKA between the 24-30th of September 2022.

The second week the field-based training continued at the Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre (UEMC) in Udzungwa, Mang’ula, Morogoro and involved the participation of 5 EU lecturers (one from UNIFI, one from MUSE and two from NHMD). The training for SUA occurred between 18-23rd of September, for UDSM between 25-30th of September and for MWEKA between the 2-7th of October 2022. The opening session was hold on the 19th of September together with the participation of the chief park warden, Mr. Abel Mtui, together with national park and field station staff.

The last day of the field-based training, all participants have been introduced to the KOBO surveys to evaluate both the use of the e-learning platform and the training received and the feedback on the implementation of CONTAN activities so far was highly promising.

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We still have a piece of road to walk though, to improve conservation and monitoring skills. Justified by the lack of optimal reference material, one of the upcoming aims is to produce a document that will elaborate on the relevant topics and will support both trainers and students applying biodiversity assessment and monitoring tools.

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A 2‐days symposium on biodiversity and conservation is also expected to be carried out in Moshi, Kilimanjaro, and organized by UBT in close coordination with all Partners, with the aim of sharing scientific information on the relevant topics addressed during the e‐learning training. It will include presentation of a toolkit and will serve to boost project visibility. The event will also be the occasion to disseminate the relevant results achieved during the project to local stakeholders and the local scientific community, as well as an occasion for public dissemination to students and relatives of the project achievement.

Work is in progress. Keep following us to stay updated!

#biodiversity #conservation #CONTAN #education #Erasmus+ #EU #European Union #monitoring #Project #Universities

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