On September 19, 2023 Rwanda has received wonderful news, it has been confirmed Nyungwe National Park has been inscribed on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nyungwe National Park also becomes the first site in Rwanda to be listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites which are places of global importance. That is to mean, sites that should be recognized and protected because they possess a biodiversity (in the case of the Nyungwe) or something and that is not found in many places in the world and should therefore be protected for the future generations to find. UNESCO World Heritage sites are therefore of benefit to the whole world not just to the places where they are found.
In 2021 Nyungwe National Park was put on the list of places that were under consideration to be qualified as UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has been long overdue for the site to be recognized and included.
Why Nyungwe National Park’s inscription was long overdue?
Nyungwe National Park protects an ancient forest that has been around since the last ice age thousands of years ago. This longevity has enabled it accumulate and protect an incredible biodiversity. The forest has a lot of species that are not found anywhere else on the planet and researchers are continually discovering new wildlife most of which is not found outside Nyungwe and the Albertine Rift valley. Moreover, there are very few forests of this kind left in Africa and therefore elevating Nyungwe to a UNESCO heritage site is vital in preserving important global ecosystems that have been threatened by human settlement and exploitation. Many such forests in Africa have been depleted.
Nyungwe is also an important water catchment for the region and the continent of Africa as it contributes water to two major rivers in Africa, that is, the world’s longest river the Nile River (the farthest known source of the Nile is found in Nyungwe) and the Congo River. Nyungwe also provides 70% of the fresh water in Rwanda.
What does this new status mean for Nyungwe National Park and Rwanda?
This status is very vital for Nyungwe National Park as it brings it at the forefront of conservation efforts. Nyungwe will now attract more funding for conservation as a world heritage site. This therefore helps the survival of this vital ecosystem.
Rwanda getting her first UNESCO World Heritage site is an achievement worth celebrating and is a testament to the massive effort the government of Rwanda has put in protecting and preserving her natural resources. Rwanda is dedicated to protecting the natural resources and the ecosystems amidst the immense challenges and pressures these places due to an increasing and demanding population. Seeing what Rwanda has done with the recovery of Akagera National Park which is was nearly no more but now has all the big five, the turn around seen at the Volcanoes National Park whose gorilla population is growing every year that many baby gorilla are named during every during the Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony, this shows Rwanda needs to be commended as one of the biggest conservation successes in the world.
What do in Nyungwe National Park
If you are visiting Rwanda then a UNESCO Heritage World Heritage site should on the list of places to visit. Nyungwe provides an array of experiences for the nature lover. The most popular activity is the chimpanzee trekking, an activity that gives you a chance to track down a community of chimps and spend an hour around them and it is one of the best wildlife encounters you can have. If you are visit Rwanda for the gorilla trekking, the best way to compliment meeting the gentle giants is going to Nyungwe for the chimpanzee trekking.
There is a canopy walk adventure in Nyungwe National Park that is highlight you should not miss. The walkway provides breathtaking views across the forest and a chance to see monkeys and birds at eye level.
Nyungwe National Park is a birdwatching heaven that provides the best opportunity to tick off the Albertine Rift endemic species including the Rwenzori Turaco
Other activities to do in Nyungwe National Park include nature walks on several trails leading to beautiful parts of the park such to a waterfal, tracking the colobus monkeys, visit a tea estate on the edge of the forest. Night walks are also available in Nyungwe to enable discover the nocturnal life of the forest you won’t see during the day.