Strengthening of research capacity for protected area and their periphery management in southern Africa - RENCARE

Last update: 19 January 2018

Supporting the research platform RP-PCP and fostering post-graduate research on human-nature interaction in and in the periphery of protected areas in southern Africa.

Dates 2013-2016


In Southern Africa, the development of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) in the last decade has had a major impact on the management of protected areas and their peripheries. Furthermore, the departure from Zimbabwe of numerous professionals in the areas of research and higher education since the early 2000’s, as well as the arrival of younger professionals in conservation and agriculture services has weakened the country’s situation as regards the conservation and development of biodiversity, especially to the benefit of local populations, and the co-existence of agricultural activities and conservation.

In order to buck this trend, the University of Zimbabwe in Harare and the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo have requested a stronger research partnership with the French research bodies, the Centre for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) which have been established in Zimbabwe for many years. In order to support this renewal, these four establishments have put in place a “Production and Conservation in Partnership” Research Platform (RP-PCP) in order to host the research work and training programmes. The platform intends to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity and the development of rural communities living on the peripheries of protected areas in Southern Africa by ensuring the involvement of these communities in the definition of the research issues, the proposed solutions and their implementation. 

This new process, which was jointly built between Zimbabwean and French partners, has had a very positive response from bordering countries (especially South Africa). However, it needs to be consolidated and supported by providing specific resources to the university research teams which are signatories to the PR-PCP mechanism, particularly in order to help integrate their activities into a regional framework via the Great Limpopo and Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Areas.

The RenCaRe project aims to support national structures and Zimbabwean research by creating and managing a competitive research fund to support the most innovative work and allow young researchers working within the PR-PCP to take academic certificate courses with the backing of senior researchers from the CIRAD, CNRS and other academic or research structures, in particular by strengthening cooperation with universities in the region. It shall contribute to improving the management of the peripheries of Transfrontier Conservation Areas to the benefit of populations in border areas and wildlife. 

The RenCaRe project takes responsibility for the aims of French cooperation, i.e. promoting higher education and scientific research in the areas of environmental management, health, sustainable development and the fight against poverty. It intends to help train elite regional scientists by committing to address some of the most important issues in the sub-region: the future of biodiversity in the context of the demographic crisis, conflict over access to natural resources and the emergence of animal and human diseases, especially on the peripheries of protected areas.

The RenCaRe project wants to help train the future Zimbabwean teacher-researchers required by the universities in line with Zimbabwean policies in the fields of research, environmental management and agriculture which want international and regional cooperation to be developed in the area. Overall, 6 PhD projects (4 in Zimbabwe and 2 in southern Africa) and 6 MPhil projects (4 in Zimbabwe and 2 in southern Africa) will be supported by RenCaRe in addition to numerous activity related to the support, strengthening and animation of the research platform.

Last update: 19 January 2018

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