The Government has entered a 20-year agreement with African Parks to manage and conserve Nyungwe National Park, the largest expanse of forest in the country, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said on Wednesday.

The agreement is expected to preserve the park’s rich biodiversity to secure long-term benefits for people and Rwanda’s wildlife.

Located in the Albertine Rift, Nyungwe is home to a quarter of Africa’s primates – 13 species including chimpanzees and the extremely rare Hamlyn’s and L’Hoest’s monkeys.

Among the more than 1,000 plants, over 90 mammals and 300 bird species recorded, many are endemic and found only within Nyungwe and in this high priority conservation area.

Clare Akamanzi, RDB’s Chief Executive said the agreement will enable Rwanda to turn the Park into an “even more spectacular place to visit by advancing wildlife management and conservation.”

She said the agreement will also see the expansion of tourism infrastructure and increase tourism marketing and promotion.

Nyungwe is located in the south-west of Rwanda. It contains diverse flora and fauna due to its large areas of forest and marshland, which spans a total 1,019 square kilometres.

Peter Fearnhead, the Chief Executive of African Parks said Rwanda has demonstrated leadership in taking action to preserve ecosystems, which sustain human health.

He argued that the agreement will enable the government to achieve “meaningful results in protecting natural resources not just for a country, but for a continent and for the planet.”

Nyungwe is already an important source of benefits for the country.

As a critical catchment area feeding both the Congo Basin to the west and the Nile Basin to the east, the park provides 70 per cent of Rwanda’s water, according to RDB.

The park has a nascent tourism economy, but plays a key role in generating revenue and employment as the country emerges as one of the region’s luxury ecotourism destinations.

RDB said the agreement will secure the sustainability of the park by improving law enforcement, investment, stimulating local enterprises and optimise the park’s potential for conservation-based tourism.

Nyungwe represents the second such partnership between RDB and African Parks, following a management agreement for Akagera National Park that began 2010.

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