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Rwanda - Main Details

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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.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The strategy focuses on five major aims: improved conservation of protected areas and wetlands; sustainable use of biodiversity in natural ecosystems and agro-ecosystems; rational use of biotechnology; development and strengthening of policy, institutional, legal and human resources frameworks; and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of biological resources. The Action Plan consists of urgent and priority actions which are attainable in a period of five years

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Objectives related to the conservation of ecosystems have been established in legislation as well as documents, such as strategies. They include the improvement of protected areas and wetlands conservation, the restoration of degraded sites, and the recovery of threatened species. Protected areas cover 10% of the national territory. Some programmes protect specific species, such us the mountain gorilla of the Volcanoes National Park, primate species of the Nyungwe Forest, and endemic species of the Albertine Rift Eco-region. Biodiversity concerns have been integrated in some sectors such as agriculture and forestry. Legislation has been established in order to promote sustainable management of natural resources. In addition, some specific measures include conservation of natural forest massifs by promoting and diversifying ecotourism, protecting habitat and species, and involvement of local community. Furthermore, the polluter-pays principle constitutes a fundamental element of the National Policy on the Environment.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

Concerns related to protected areas have been integrated into plans and legislation. For example, the organic law on the environment includes aspects regarding impacts assessments and the protection of wetlands of importance to biodiversity.

Initiatives in Access and Benefit Sharing

Measures related to the fair and equitable sharing of results are defined in the law on intellectual property that is currently under revision. Capacity building, in terms of, among others, assessment and inventory of resources, access to these resources, and techniques for the elaboration of reports and legislative texts, must be supported

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

Awareness raising and community participation, with a particular focus on women and youth, constitutes one of the strategies of the implementation of the national policy on environment.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme