The history and people of the area are diverse, with many examples of song, dance, music, cuisine, handicrafts and other artisan skills that make for a fascinating complement to the ecotourism attractions of Nyungwe.

Nyungwe forest is hundreds of thousands of years old. People’s presence in Nyungwe dates back at least 50,000 years.

Today and Beyond

Just by visiting, you are part of the park’s history and contribute to the local economy, which in turn helps to protect this amazing place. Nyungwe’s rich natural resources make it vital but also threaten it. Protecting the forest is up to us. Mining, poaching, fires, and illegal logging have all threatened the forest throughout its history. Once damaged, forests take centuries to recover.

The Rwanda Development Board, surrounding communities, Wildlife Conservation Society and many others are working to ensure Nyungwe is protected for generations to come. Beekeeping and other cooperatives help protect the park, gaining income through responsible, sustainable forest use. For centuries, bamboo has been used to make traditional homes, and some of Rwanda’s famous weavings are made from bamboo.

Community Projects around Nyungwe

Revenue Sharing and Outreach projects, Bee-Keeping Associations Handicraft Associations, Rural Electrification Project, Community Tourism Project, Community Tourist Lodge Project, Energy Efficient Stoves, Benefits from Tourism.

Handicrafts and beverages purchased by tourists create local income and the Rwanda Development Board gives a portion of park revenue to surrounding communities, who help protect the forest.

Community Tourism at Banda Village

“When tourists come to Banda, they pay to watch dancers and purchase handicrafts. Tourists buy food, water, and soda. This began as a nature conservation club. The objective was to transmit messages, and people used dancing. In 2003 we got a permit to be a cooperative that has general aim of ecotourism development of Nyungwe National Park using Banda culture and handicrafts. The objective is to reduce poverty of people in the cooperative and in the general population while promoting nature conservation.”

Teaching kids about the forest through nature clubs will protect the park for generations to come.

Rwandans depend on Nyungwe as a source of natural resources and water, and protection from erosion.

People depend on Nyungwe to make a living—it provides jobs for guides and trackers, and opportunities for the local economy, like the selling of handicrafts.

Nyungwe forest provides an estimated hundreds of millions of US dollars (billions of RFW) worth of “ecological services” to surrounding communities, Rwanda and the entire planet every year—such as slowing global warming and watershed protection. Rope, bamboo, and other traditionally used forest plants are still important to people for weaving, medicines, building and more. They must be harvested sustainably to protect the forest’s integrity.

Several plants found in Nyungwe have important medicinal value. Some medicines have yet to be discovered!

The bark of the umugote tree makes a good cough medicine.