Status and Trends of Biodiversity
Rwanda, a small country in the heart of Central Africa, possesses several natural ecosystems like forests, savanna, lakes, rivers and marshes. Approximately 10% of the national territory is dedicated to the protection of natural ecosystems and their biodiversity. Rwanda belongs to a zone of global ecological importance called “Albertine Rift Eco-region”. The dense mountain forests of the Volcanoes National Park are home to an important population of mountain gorillas. Furthermore, the Nyungwe National Park hosts 13 species of primates and 275 bird species. In addition, the Akagera National Park is home to a great diversity of wild species, such as zebras, baboons, elephants, and crocodiles. The majority of Rwanda’s wetlands are home to species such as hippopotamus, turtles, wild ducks, and snakes. The Rugezi ecosystem and the Bulera and Ruhondo lakes have been declared as Ramsar sites. The major threats to Rwanda’s biodiversity include erosion, floods and droughts, disease and pests, as well as population pressure and resettlement, overexploitation, poaching, and bush fires. The 1994 genocide also had a big impact on Rwanda’s biodiversity.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
Rwanda has four protected areas covering 10% of the national territory. These are the Nyungwe National Park (924 000 hectares), Volcanoes National Park (12 000 hectares), Akagera National Park (90 000 hectares), and the Rugezi wetland (6 735 hectares).
Percentage of Forest Cover
Forests cover 12% of the national territory, including natural and planted forests. There are also programmes promoting agro-forestry and the national objective is to reach 25% of forest cover by 2011 and 30% by 2020.