The research group will be working on eight sub-projects on the restoration of ecosystems in western Rwanda. Ecosystems are being restored at various locations throughout the country by planting trees. The scientists want to investigate the resulting changes in, for example, the composition of woody vegetation, the landscape context and ultimately biodiversity. Part of the research will involve using satellite data to identify and analyse landscape changes over the past decades. Particular attention will be paid to the connectivity factor, as good connectivity between sites has a positive influence on biodiversity. Another perspective, however, is the complex relationship between ecosystems and people. Social-ecological research, for example, looks at the influence of restoration initiatives on local communities and their social cohesion. This involves recognition, respect and the inclusion of local people’s identity, culture and traditional ties to the land as well as the way communities are involved in decision-making related to restoration.
Because this research group is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), it is primarily based at institutions in Germany. However, research will work closely with diverse collaborators in Rwanda.