The Government of Rwanda and conservation non-profit organisation, African Parks, have signed a new agreement for Nyungwe National Park which will ensure the sustainable management of the country’s largest expanse of forest.

This announcement follows a successful 10-year partnership between the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and African Parks, which has steered an ecological and economic revival of Akagera National Park in the eastern part of Rwanda. The national park represents one of the most important wetland systems in the region.

Commenting on the partnership, Clare Akamanzi, RDB Chief Executive Officer said: “We look forward to making Nyungwe National Park an even more spectacular place to visit by advancing wildlife management and conservation, expanding tourism infrastructure, and increasing tourism marketing and promotion. We also look forward to a collaborative working relationship with communities around the park.”

CEO of African Parks, Peter Fernhead, highlighted that by investing in the long-term protection of Nyungwe National Park, one of Africa’s biodiversity hotspots, the Government of Rwanda had continued to demonstrate global leadership in taking action to preserve ecosystems which sustain human health, local livelihoods and economies.

“Coming on the heels of Climate Week and the UN Biodiversity Summit with countries pledging to put climate and biodiversity at the heart of post-COVID recovery plans, it is actions exactly like these being taken by the Rwandan Government that will achieve meaningful results in protecting natural resources, not just for a country, but for a continent and for the planet,” he added.

Located in the south-west of Rwanda, Nyungwe contains exceptional levels of faunal and floral diversity owing to its large tracts of montane forest, interspersed with marshland, which spans a total 1 019 sq km.

It is positioned in the heart of the Albertine Rift and is home to a quarter of Africa’s primates – 13 species – including chimpanzees and the extremely rare Hamlyn’s and L’Hoest’s monkeys.

Among the more than 1 000 plants, over 90 mammals and 300 bird species recorded, many are endemic and found only within Nyungwe and in this high-priority conservation area.

Nyungwe is also a critical catchment area feeding both the Congo Basin to the west and the Nile Basin to the east, providing 70% of Rwanda’s water. It also has a nascent tourism economy, playing a key role in generating revenue and employment as Rwanda emerges as one of the world’s foremost luxury ecotourism destinations.

The Rwanda Development Board and African Parks would work together to secure the sustainability of the park by improving law enforcement, investing in and stimulating local enterprise, and by optimising Nyungwe’s exceptional potential for conservation-based tourism, said Fernhead.

Nyungwe is the 19th park to join the African Parks portfolio, made possible thanks to the support of the Rwanda Development Board, The Wyss Foundation, Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and Fondation Segré.