Parks’ Governance and Management in Rwanda: Opportunities and Challenges of the Community Participation for a Sustainable Conservation - Case Study of Nyungwe National Park
International Journal of Environmental Protection and Policy
Volume 7, Issue 2, March 2019, Pages: 61-71
Received: Feb. 26, 2019; Accepted: Apr. 2, 2019; Published: May 10, 2019
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Gloriose Umuziranenge, Department of Natural Resources and Environment Management, Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Science, Huye, Rwanda
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In the field of conservation, the shift from the fortress conservation approach towards participatory management has considerably increased the interest for tourism activities and income. In Rwanda, the protected areas governance system is promoting community-based conservation through tourism revenue sharing to achieve conservation and development goals. The case study was designed to: (1) assess the understanding and implementation of principles of community participation by different stakeholders for the benefit of local communities and the efficiency of the conservation and (2) define interactive dynamics and conditions created for fully and sustainably population involvement in the conservation. The study area was selected because of its rich biodiversity and the high dependence of surrounding populations on natural resources. The study adopted a qualitative approach based on semi-structured individual interviews to key stakeholders from different categories of stakeholders including local communities. The data collected were transcribed, translated and analyzed using content analysis methods, MAXQDA Software and a coding system. The results showed that the involvement and empowerment of local people are done through keen activities based cooperative associations and funded projects, reference made to resources use, awareness raising and skills for interactions, cooperative spirit promotion and entrepreneurship. They indicated that the level of communities’ participation remains only of procedural kind and is still low though community members are benefiting of jobs, loans for their projects and income generating activities such as organized productions for market thanks to tourism revenue sharing and revolving fund programs. The transfer of the management is slow and smooth because of a slow change of mindset from receiving mentality, farming related difficulties, unaffordable lending conditions and a great deal of communication and misunderstanding on the tourism revenue sharing and the projects funding approaches. Contradictory understandings and appreciations of the community participation are recorded according to the categories of stakeholders. Actually, all the administrative and technical processes including mediation between communities and funding agencies are driven through a top-down management model; the study area being a state owned and controlled park and not a co-managed one. Though local communities gradually understand the role of the park thanks to income generating activities and community projects, the new approach does not meet basic criteria for effective community participation to ensure the sustainability of the conservation. However, the socio-economic incentives have a positive impact on the reduction of illegal activities and threats, except poaching for which a compensation fund for damaged crops was created.
Nyungwe National Park, Community Participation, Natural Resources Management, Tourism Revenue Sharing, Rwanda
To cite this article
Gloriose Umuziranenge, Parks’ Governance and Management in Rwanda: Opportunities and Challenges of the Community Participation for a Sustainable Conservation - Case Study of Nyungwe National Park, International Journal of Environmental Protection and Policy. Vol. 7, No. 2, 2019, pp. 61-71. doi: 10.11648/j.ijepp.20190702.13
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