How Science and Exploration Moved a Nation:
Gabon’s National Park Network

Date: Monday, September 11, 2006
Time Details: 6:30PM Lecture
7:30PM Wine and Cheese
Location: Missouri Botanical Garden
Ridgway Center – 4344 Shaw St. Louis, Missouri
Shoenberg Auditorium


In 2002, in one of the boldest actions for conservation in a generation, President Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon created a new network of 13 national parks, comprising just over 10% of the nation’s land area. Up to this point, Gabon had no national parks, despite one of the highest levels of biodiversity in Africa. Playing a critical role in persuading President Bongo Ondimba to make such a momentous decision was Dr. Lee White, a WCS conservation scientist and director of the WCS Gabon Program, whose research played a key role in identifying the priority areas for conservation. Since 2003, Dr. White has been working with the Gabon National Parks Office to manage a number of these protected areas and to plan strategically for eco-tourism development in the country.

Dr. White grew up in Uganda bouncing regularly on the knees of various WCS staffers. At age 14, he surveyed rare monkeys in Sierra Leone with WCS scientists and when he was 18, worked for WCS surveying pygmy hippos, also in Sierra Leone. His Ph.D. on the impacts of logging on wildlife in Gabon was funded by WCS, and he joined the staff in 1992 when he was hired to establish the WCS Gabon Program. Under his guidance, the Gabon Program has grown from a research project to a conservation program employing 200 people and active in the 13 national parks. Dr. White has also published and contributed to many books and articles regarding conservation in Gabon and has been collaborating with the Missouri Botanical Garden for 15 years, and even described a new species of rare rainforest tree with Dr. Gordon McPherson of the Garden. Dr. White epitomizes the spirit of adventure and field science that characterizes these two great institutions and has shown that even in the modern world individuals can make a difference.

Walk-Ins Welcome: No
Reservation Deadline: None
Reservation Contact: Please call Donna Rodgers (314) 577-9410 or (314) 577-5111 to make reservations
Member Dinner Ticket: Please contact Donna for more information.
Guest Dinner Ticket: Please contact Donna for more information.
Lecture Only Ticket: N/A

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