Aaron Nicholas – Wildlife Conservation Society, PCFN Director
Jan 2011-Jul 2012
The opportunity to work in Nyungwe was unexpected. I received a call from the Africa Program outlining an opportunity to take on the directorship of the project for an interim period. I had heard of the mythical land of mountains,mist and primates tucked away in the SW corner of Rwanda, but could not have prepared myself for the reality of the opportunity.
Nyungwe National Park, its biodiversity and those who work and live in the area have weathered many challenges over the years. The rare importance of these cloud-soaked hills in terms of their rich biodiversity and ecological significance to millions of people are increasingly important core justifications for protecting Nyungwe. The long-standing presence of the Wildlife Conservation Society has been instrumental in catalysing support at every level and one of my abiding memories is of the incredible depth of knowledge and commitment amongst the PCFN staff and partners.
Nyungwe’s future may to a large extent be dependent on what we have learned in the past.Long-term biodiversity monitoring and research programs provide critical data-sets that will help us predict the possible effects of climate change at both species, community and ecosystem levels, also helping us develop ways to manage the significant threat of wild-fire. Responsible tourism also offers an avenue to increasingly engage with local communities and Nyungwe’s management successes are also stimulating a renewed commitment to manage Burundi’s Kibira National Park- for the benefit of both areas and millions of people across the region.