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Campus News Update – December 16, 2020

We’ve gone vertical!

After months of watching plans on paper become holes in the ground become foundations poured flat and smooth, we’re finally starting to see some upward progress as our construction team builds our Ellen DeGeneres Campus skyward. Structural columns are in place, walls have started to go up and the casting of roof slabs has begun. We’re also finding time to continue with our conservation education programs for the workers on site, giving them a deeper understanding of the importance of our conservation mission.

We can’t stop watching this, an amazing time-lapse video created by our architectural partners at MASS Design.

And it isn’t just buildings that are appearing on the Campus. Last month we planted the very first trees! These trees were propagated in our on-site nursery, which holds more than 138,000 specimens at this point in the project. Many of these native plants were sprouted from seeds by local schoolchildren who participate in our Nature Clubs at nearby secondary schools.

In Phase One of our planting, we are concentrating on the areas around the edge of the campus, away from the construction itself. The very first tree planted was an Erythrina Abyssinica, a native plant that is often used locally as a type of natural fence. We also planted Maesa Lanceolata shrubs, a type of plant frequently eaten by the golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park, as well as a mix of native ferns.

“It is really exciting after so many months of working on the foundations to see our future home literally emerging from the ground,” says Fossey Fund’s CEO and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Tara Stoinski. “I’m also so proud to see the considerable impact the project is having on the local community—from employment to skills trainings to environmental restoration. It fits perfectly with our motto of Helping People, Saving Gorillas.”  

This infographic shows the impact of our construction project at the end of October 2020.

About the Campus:

The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will be the permanent headquarters of the Fossey Fund’s activities. Its mission is to inspire and educate the next generation of conservationists in Africa and beyond. They will be trained to tackle the conservation challenges of the future and to ensure the survival of gorillas and their biodiverse forest home. The multi-acre, eco-friendly facility adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park will include laboratories, a computer lab and library, flexible office and meeting space, classrooms, an interactive educational exhibit and on-site residences for visiting students and scientists. Built with locally-sourced materials and supplies, the Campus will embody the Fossey Fund’s mission to conserve and limit its impact on the environment, through rainwater harvesting, green roofs, the planting of over 250,000 native plant species and a constructed wetland to treat wastewater and promote biodiversity.