Federal Environment Ministry supports national park in Rwanda

The Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) is providing approximately 1.6 million euros from the International Climate Initiative for the protection of the Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda. In cooperation with Rwandan partners, the University of Koblenz-Landau will establish a protection zone around the park by 2012. The aim is to prevent further logging in the cloud forest, which is highly significant for climate protection and biodiversity.

Rwanda is a biodiversity hot spot, and its National Park "Forêt de Nyungwe" is the largest montane cloud forest in eastern Africa. However, pressure on the forest is increasing because local people are using it as a source for firewood. With more than 400 inhabitants per square kilometre, Rwanda is extremely densely populated. Almost 90% of the population rely on subsistence farming and use wood as their main energy source.

The project supported by the BMU aims at protecting the forest by intensifying agricultural and forestry production on an area of about 7000 hectares around Nyungwe National Park, while at the same time making it more sustainable. Agroforestry systems, i.e. the cultivation of trees and shrubs on agricultural land, are able to replace the harvesting of wood from the forest. They also protect the soil against erosion and facilitate the production of firewood and timber. Climate-damaging carbon dioxide is permanently stored in the biomass of the trees and the organic soil substance. Food security and the income situation of the local people are improved.

The Federal Environment Ministry is using funds from the International Climate Initiative to finance projects in the fields of emission reduction and adaptation to the consequences of climate change in developing countries. The protection of the National Park in Rwanda is also a contribution to the international LifeWeb initiative, which Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel launched at the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn in 2008.