Regional countries set up Virunga conservation agency

Agency to have headquarters in Rwanda Regional ministers who hold portfolios to do with environmental conservation and tourism, have requested Rwanda to register a five-year old institutional mechanism, as an ‘Inter-State agency’ to coordinate conservation works in the Virunga volcanoes.
Ugandan State Minister of Tourism Serapio Rukundo (L) shakes hands with DR Congo Administrator for Nature Conservation Cosma Wilungula as Commerce Minister Minique Nsanzabaganwa looks on. (Photo/J Mbanda).
Ugandan State Minister of Tourism Serapio Rukundo (L) shakes hands with DR Congo Administrator for Nature Conservation Cosma Wilungula as Commerce Minister Minique Nsanzabaganwa looks on. (Photo/J Mbanda).

Agency to have headquarters in Rwanda

Regional ministers who hold portfolios to do with environmental conservation and tourism, have requested Rwanda to register a five-year old institutional mechanism, as an ‘Inter-State agency’ to coordinate conservation works in the Virunga volcanoes.

The ministers are from, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda.

If legalised as an agency, the ‘Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC)’ will move from the status of a loose arrangement under the three countries’ tourism and wildlife institutions to a fully-fledged legal institution.

“It will be the biggest success from our collaboration,” said Pasteur Cosma Wilungula Balongelwa, Director of the Congolese Institute for Wildlife Conservation who represented the DRC in the ministerial talks yesterday.

The ministers agreed that GVTC’s administration will be vested in the Inter-Ministerial board, the Trans-boundary Core Secretariat and its affairs directly managed under an Executive Secretariat based in Rwanda.

The body will work to conserve, manage environmental resources and promote tourism in protected areas of the three countries especially the Virunga Park, which is home to hundreds of the only surviving mountain gorillas in the world. The Virunga area is shared between the three countries.

“We can work together and come up with plans to market this area,” observed Serapio Rukundo, Uganda’s Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities shortly after signing the troika’s decision.

“The wildlife is related though territorial boundaries separated it,” said Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry and Tourism, Monique Nsanzabaganwa.

The ministers’ decision is subsequent to appreciation from the three countries’ environmental and tourism institutions for the need to coordinate their conservation efforts across the frontiers including transboundary tourism, law enforcement and coordination of gorilla census.

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