Proper links between conservation, tourism and community development could make the planned expansion of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park a success story

On 22nd April, African Wildlife Foundation and Rwanda Country Director, invited different partners in Rwanda to discuss proposed angle-sustainable finance mechanisms and models for a planned Volcanoes National Park expansion and community ownership. The Red Rocks Initiative representative, LT&C member Greg Bakunzi, emphasized the need for community benefit from the park expansion. In particular off-farm employment opportunities for communities affected by the park expansion should be considered. He mentioned that the success of the expanded park conservation would depend on how the community benefits from protection measures, whether it be direct or indirect. Benefits could best come from proper linking of tourism, environmental conservation, awareness, and community development.

Greg Bakunzi stated that since 2001 Volcanoes National Park registered significant success in its conservation efforts. At that time, the park hosted around 480 gorillas, and by 2013, the numbers increased to about 600. Today’s last count resulted in 1,004 gorillas, outshining the park’s size. The proposed project to expand the Volcanoes National Park will most likely lead to more reproduction of the gorilla families and decent livelihood for communities around the expanded park as a result of off-farm employment due to tourism activities.

In his conclusion, he emphasized the need to involve the communities in the park expansion program and raise conservation awareness from the program’s inception up to the end.

Adult male Mountain Gorilla, Virunga National Park. Photo: Peter Prokosch

A presentation illustrating the present ideas of the Volcanoes National Park expansion can be found here:

If you like to experience the park, the mountain gorillas and the cultural work of Red Rocks in Rwanda, have a look at this offer to participate in the culture week: https://www.ltandc.org/event/red-rocks-cultural-festival-rwanda/

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