The Nyungwe Forest is undoubtedly the most floristically rich forest remaining in Rwanda, and at 971 km2 is by far the largest. Wildlife Conservation Society has been supporting the conservation and management of Nyungwe Forest in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (formerly ORTPN) since 1987, which began with the creation of the Projet Conservation de la Foret de Nyungwe (PCFN), WCS’s program in Nyungwe. Nyungwe is a critical area for the conservation of many restricted-range montane species in Africa, with more endemic species than in any other forest in the Albertine Rift.
A major objective of the WCS Program in Rwanda is to create a model for conservation management and community conservation for Rwanda and develop the capacity of Rwandan nationals to undertake conservation research and manage protected areas to create the next generation of conservation leaders. To accomplish this, WCS has developed a program of education and dialogue with the local communities living in the Cyangugu province surrounding the forest. ‘Animateurs de la Conservation’ (ANICO) is an innovative attempt to work within the local community’s political structure to educate people about the importance of Nyungwe nationally and globally. WCS also developed education programs in schools, leading to the creation of conservation clubs. Since many children cannot attend school, WCS also initiated ‘Associations’ comprised of young people in the community who are informed about conservation. These clubs have subsequently visited the forest and the tourism sites.