Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn
What's the Latest Development?
The Rwandan Development Board (RDB) has created several initiatives designed to involve local residents in the protection of the country's natural resources while also providing financial benefits to their communities. One notable success story involves the villages surrounding the Sabyinyo volcano. Participants in a community trust, many of them former poachers, enjoy new homes and a new cultural center, among other things, in exchange for assisting with improving tourism and socioeconomic development in the area. "[The trust] owns a luxury tourist lodge, whose profits [are] reinvested directly in local development and conservation initiatives."
What's the Big Idea?
The RDB's tourism department used to spend much of its energy in securing park borders to protect it from poachers, but the decision to provide economic incentives has proven to be an effective alternative. The head of conservation at Volcanoes National Park, a mountain gorilla habitat, says, "It’s a way of integrating [former poachers] into the park conservation process, to make them more responsible by working with them closely." One villager who used to cut the park's bamboo says, "I was always at risk of being shot by a park ranger...Conservation has been good to me."
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