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Rwanda gets first World Heritage Site

Nyungwe National Park, in Rwanda’s Southern and Western Provinces, was officially designated as a natural World Heritage Site by Unesco’s World Heritage Committee on Tuesday (September 19).

It is the first site in Rwanda to be featured on the Unesco World Heritage list.

“The inscription of Nyungwe National Park serves as a vital step in ensuring its long-term conservation, preserving its natural heritage for future generations, and promoting sustainable development for neighbouring communities,” the Rwanda Development Board said in a press release.

Established as a natural reserve in 1933, the forest became a national park in 2005 in a bid by the government to safeguard the thousands of endangered and endemic species under its protection.

Covering an expanse of 101 900ha, Nyungwe is the largest block of natural forest in the region. Boasting remarkable biodiversity, it is home to over a dozen species of primates, 322 bird species, 200 identified orchids, and nearly 300 butterfly species, including several endemic to the park.

The park’s management falls under the umbrella of the African Parks Network, a non-governmental organisation specialising in conservation, in partnership with the Rwandan Government.

Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement –who represented the Government of Rwanda during the inscription – noted that this was not only a contribution to the preservation of Rwanda’s natural heritage, but also of particular significance to the country’s people.

The inscription of Nyungwe National Park into the Unesco World Heritage list follows the inclusion of Gishwati-Mukura National Park in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2020.

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