Nature Rwanda connected to the PACE network
Nature Rwanda is a youth led, youth run, national Non-Governmental Organization based in Kigali, Rwanda. Nature Rwanda’s mission is ‘to build communities where human beings live in harmony with nature’ and particularly, to connect young people with nature.
Jean Claude DUSABIMANA, the program manager at Nature Rwanda (formerly Rwanda Biodiversity Media Group) writes that “60% of Rwanda’s population is under 25 years old. Sustainable social transformations have to start with this youth.”
“We engage youth by creating a platform for discussion, participation, and implementation of best environmental practices in primary, secondary and higher learning institutions.”
“Communities with fewer economic resources are at the heart of our actions as the vast majority of environmental decisions and nature resources in Rwanda rest in their hands, because they interact with nature daily.”
Rwanda is a small country, 26,338 square kilometres, but has a remarkable diversity of ecosystems, wildlife and flora. It is located in the western arm of Africa’s Albertine Rift Valley, which is a “biodiversity hotspot” considered to have the highest species richness on the continent. Within its beautiful mountains, lakes, wetlands and savanna Rwanda itself shelters 151 different types of mammal species, eleven of which are currently threatened. Among it’s primates are half of the remaining world population of mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla berengei). Rwanda’s gorillas are found in the famous Volcanoes National Park. Other important mammals include the owl-faced monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni), the mountain monkey (Cercopithecus hoesti) in Nyungwe, the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) in Nyungwe and Gishwati, and the Golden monkey (Cercopithecus mitis kandti) found in Volcanoes National Park. There are also 15 species of antelope, and a wide diversity of species such as buffalo, zebra, warthog, baboon, elephant, hippopotamus, crocodile, tortoise and rare species such as the giant pangolin.
Rwanda also has the highest human population density in Africa, and its’ dependence on agriculture has resulted in sustained conversion of natural ecosystems and wildlife habitat into farmland. The biggest threats to biodiversity in Rwanda are due to population pressure and the problem of scarcity of agricultural land, but other human activities that convert natural habitats, industry, mining and the introduction of alien species are also significant. Hence Nature Rwanda’s mission to inform and engage the younger generation with conservation and sustainable development.
Nature Rwanda supported World Biodiversity Day that is globally celebrated on May 22nd. The theme was "Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism". Activities were organised by the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management (CoEB), and Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) in Huye District. As their part of the celebration Nature Rwanda reached out to communities in the Southern Province, and left PACE materials for students to use in their Science and Environment Clubs in four schools there.
Students learned some of the links between biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism by discussing the threats or challenges to biodiversity which tend to impact negatively on the tourism sector and vice versa. They were told about and shared what they knew about touristic sites in Huye and about raising awareness on conserving and promoting the biodiversity at these sites – “students said their problem is that they hear about those sites and even others well known globally like the National Parks but they have never been there. They said that visiting would help them to get involved in advocating for conservation
More recently Nature Rwanda recently brought 40 students from different locations to their offices in Kigali to learn about Rwanda’s wildlife, conservation and protected areas. The students came from four schools: Petit Seminaire Saint Jean Nkumba, Groupe Scolaire Saint Aloys- Rwamagana, ESI Nyabirasi, and College Christ Rois, representing the Northern, Eastern, Western, and Southern Province respectively. “We wanted to host a team of students from different locations, with different backgrounds and knowledge to let them understand that their local action can have a national and global impact.
“The program allowed participants to interact and exchange ideas.”
They all appreciated the PACE materials, which provided a valuable reference text for the students.
We're looking to Jean-Claude and his colleagues at Nature Rwanda, to give young Rwandans the practical experiences they need to become active conservationists.
Chemonics International Inc (2003). Rwanda Environmental Threats And Opportunities Assessment. Task Order No. 818 under the Biodiversity & Sustainable Forestry (BIOFOR) IQC USAID Contract No. LAG-I-00-99-00014-00. Also available on: http://www.encapafrica.org/documents/biofor/Rwanda_2003.pdf
Nature Rwanda. Empowering Youth, Shape the Future. Conservation Education Report, Jan-May 2017.
Republic of Rwanda. Rwanda Biodiversity Policy. September 2011.
Rwanda state of the environment and outlook report. 2009. Rwanda Environmental Management Authority. Kigali.
Sasha Norris & Nancy Gladstone. 2006. Africa our Home. Siren Conservation Education & TUSK Trust. Gillingham, Dorset, UK.