Partner with us to save mountain gorillas

Become a partner in a groundbreaking effort to build resilience for mountain gorillas and communities

Thanks to decades of successful conservation interventions, mountain gorillas are the only great ape whose population is increasing. However, this conservation success is now posing a significant challenge: adequate space.

Recognising the need to expand Volcanoes National Park to support the mountain gorillas and maintain the thriving tourism industry, the Government of Rwanda, with AWF's support as technical advisor, has developed a holistic vision to strategically expand Volcanoes National Park and continue to improve the lives of Rwandans. The government's vision includes expanding and restoring park habitat, enhancing biodiversity, and promoting an improved tourism experience that will increase park revenues, support employment, spark spin-off businesses, and enhance the quality of life and economic opportunities for Rwandans living in the surrounding area.

This innovative new strategy is projected to:

  • Increase the park by 3,740 hectares (37.4 square kilometres).
  • Expand mountain gorilla habitat to support a 15-20% increase in population and reduce the number of human-wildlife conflicts by 50%.
  • Improve conservation-based tourism resulting in a 15-20% increase in mountain gorilla viewing opportunities.
  • Improve the quality of life for more than 17,000 Rwandans living around the national park through improved schools and more than US$ 70 million investment in social housing and infrastructure.
  • Provide skills development and jobs for more than 7,500 Rwandans within the tourism, construction/trades, agriculture, and service sectors.

In 2018, AWF took the first important step in this groundbreaking initiative by donating 27.8 hectares of land to the Rwandan government – who added it to the park, expanding it for the first time in 30 years.

The area is now being restored using bamboo and other native species, creating habitat for wildlife, reducing erosion risks from flooding and setting, establishing a significant precedent for park expansion and ecosystem restoration.

Now, we invite you to partner with us in the next phase of this pioneering program.

We are working with communities, the Government of Rwanda, the private sector, and civil society partners to design and deliver a pilot program as proof of concept – to show that efforts to expand gorilla habitat can incorporate equal investments to ensure people living around the park benefit from park expansion. This translates to involving communities in the park expansion planning process, providing housing and social benefits to communities affected by the expansion, and investing in inclusive green growth to create jobs and opportunities for people adjacent to the park.

Working with 600 families, the pilot model will expand the park by an additional 450 hectares to ease the population pressure in the high-density Bisoke area, and it includes the following components:

  • Park expansion, including removal of infrastructure and alien species and restoration of indigenous species.
  • Development of a green village – a smart village will be constructed to host the community and will include a housing component and basic infrastructures like a school, a health post, and a small market.
  • Livelihood improvements, including smart agriculture production and other income-generating activities for the community, will be complemented by the support of different business plans developed by the community.

With your partnership, we can solve this challenge. Please invest generously to help us reach our US$ 8.6M goal to provide a safe space for mountain gorillas and improve the lives of our most critical partners in this effort, the Rwandan communities who share this special landscape. And please accept our heartfelt thanks.

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