The involvement of the local communities is essential for the sustainable management of protected areas.
The local communities exert constant pressure on the protected areas and carry out illegal activities. The population number increases regularly and so is poverty levels. The need to acquire a land is a permanent challenge for conservation in Rwanda. For instance, the three national parks which are under the responsibility of RDB, have lost more than 51% of their initial area since their creation.
However some activities have been initiated to encourage the local communities to get involved in conservation activities. A good number of national and international NGOs are committed to collaborate with RDB and engage in community projects. Those include the International Gorilla Conservation programme, the Gorilla Organization, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF), the Gorilla Organization Art of Conservation, Care International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
These NGOs are involved in many activities such as community sensitisation, development of micro-projects, support to existing community activities, to associations of bee-keepers, artisans and others; support to afforestation activities, saving schemes, assistance to craftsmen and support in rainwater catchment.
Revenue Sharing by RDB-Tourism and Conservation
Additionally since 2005, a revenue sharing scheme was established which consist in giving 5% of total park revenues to communities as incentives for conservation; RDB-T&C has so far provided $1,830,000 to support community projects.
These mainly include:
- Infrastructure: schools, health facilities
- Agriculture: Seeds production and storage, agroforestry, tree planting
- Bee keeping
- Water supply, especially rain water collection
- Small factories: Milk collection and cooling, grain grinding, tile/brick factories