Dr. Bush was drawn to the WHRC because of the people who work here: top-class scientists with different backgrounds and interests working together to find accessible solutions to real world problems. He believes that solid, objective science and research has the ability to influence policy, but that it also takes capable people working together on all levels—from villagers all the way up to the national government—to incite real development and change.
The challenges Projet Équateur faces are enormous, and even small achievements are only made possible through the strength of its team. In the DRC, one of the greatest challenges is that few people have actually seen or been a part of a truly functional project. Creating and maintaining a successful project or program requires competent staff, and that in turn requires exposing people to models of success as a basis for good practice. Dr. Bush is excited to have the opportunity to work with people who both challenge and forgive one another, and who have built professional bonds as well as strong friendships that enable them to collaborate successfully. For him, “it’s the human element in all of the work we do that really drives our success.”
Ms. Poston works with donors, organizes staff, and coordinates Projet Équateur’s financial reporting and documentation. She is inspired by the overarching goal of Projet Équateur to transform the way communities see forest resources and the role they play in their daily lives, imparting a greater and different sense of value to the vital resources that surround them. She believes that it is Projet Équateur’s role not only to work to increase communities’ understandings of the importance of the environment, but also to help them find accessible and sustainable ways to conserve and maintain their natural resources.
For Ms. Poston, the most exciting part of her job is being able to go into the field and see the work the project is doing on the ground. She enjoys being able to connect on a personal level with the dedicated individuals in the villages and on the field staff. Although everyday seems to bring a new challenge for Projet Équateur, Ms. Poston remains excited about the work being done and continues to work on establishing strong lines of communication and coordination between the offices in Mbandaka and Woods Hole.
Mr. Kermarc manages daily operations of Projet Équateur in Mbandaka. While the project’s remote headquarters mean his role can range from report writer to office plumber, one of Mr. Kermarc’s most important duties is being available as Project Equateur’s contact in the field. He knows the importance of building strong, trusting, and transparent relationships, and enjoys answering questions, addressing concerns, and having open and honest conversations with communities, partners, students and local officials. Overall, he is committed to getting local people involved in the set up and management of the various agricultural, education, and conservation projects being developed by Projet Équateur.
Despite new difficulties arising almost daily, Mr. Kermarc remains positive about the direction in which the project is headed. He is excited about many of Projet Équateur’s endeavors, from working to educate local students to continuing to develop agroforestry plots and a tree nursery. While he initially anticipated having issues related to the current political climate in the DRC, the lack of local capacity and good management practices has proven a much greater challenge. He believes that building capacity is the first step in setting up successful projects and programs in the DRC, and is excited to work with the Projet Équateur team as they continue their work with help and insight from the pilot communities.
Mr. Kabemba is trained in business and administrative sciences and has been working in the humanitarian sector since 2005. He began his career working for UNCR/AIDES, a non-governmental organization and partner of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC) to support and help the repatriation of refugees in Equateur province. He then worked with the Mine Advisory Group (MAG), who specialize in de-mining, and finally for Oxfam UK, who focus on fighting poverty in rural communities.
Mr. Kabemba is proud to be part of the the Projet Équateur team, as he believes that climate change is the serious issue of our time, and one that knows not the boundaries of human societies. Working with Projet Équateur has been a wonderful experience that he truly values. He thoroughly enjoys his colleagues and is grateful for the relationships he has created on both a professional and personal level. Mr. Kabemba’s colleagues admire his great passion for improving the lives of others and his unwavering dedication to his work, family, and community.
Dr. Walker is responsible for developing and implementing community-based methods for forest carbon monitoring and reporting for Projet Équateur. While his background is in the technical science of forest carbon monitoring, he is interested in the practical applications of such research as well, especially concerning local capacity building and training. For Dr. Walker, the challenges faced by Projet Équateur are often what makes his work that much more exciting. In Africa, and in the DRC in particular, there is a great potential for rapid economic and social change, and Projet Équateur has the important opportunity to have a positive impact before any great shifts occur in terms of further forest and ecosystem degradation.
Working in the DRC certainly presents many challenges, but also many exciting opportunities for conservation and sustainable development. Dr. Walker sees Projet Équateur’s core goal as promoting sustainable livelihoods through REDD+ methods. Ultimately he believes that the success of the REDD program—and the key to combatting climate change—lies with giving local communities the tools and knowledge to be able to use and manage their forest resources in a sustainable way.