UNESCO, the UN body whose mandate covers education, science and culture, has finally inscribed Nyungwe National Park on the agency’s coveted World Heritage List, which makes it one of the few globally protected sites. This inscription has been described by many as a milestone towards the park’s long-term conservation, preserving its natural heritage for future generations, and promoting sustainable development for neighbouring communities. ALSO READ: Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park becomes UNESCO World Heritage Site Located in south-western Rwanda, Nyungwe is the country’s largest natural forest, sitting on over 100,000 hectares, and it is the source of two of the longest rivers in the world; River Nile and Congo River. With the much-needed attention that comes with this recognition, the forest and the country in general will potentially attract a lot of funding towards research in the realm of biodiversity conservation and related areas. However, research funding does not come on a silver platter. It requires first of all, interested researchers and secondly, it takes convincing proposals with clear outcomes. ALSO READ: Nyungwe National Park’s economic value estimated at $4.8 billion It is therefore imperative that our indigenous scholars take charge of that space before it is taken up by others who might latch onto this new opportunity. Why it is important that local researchers take the lead is because experience has taught us that some foreign researchers will come here with selfish interests or even at worst ulterior motives which their research end up promoting rather than serving communal interests. ALSO READ: Explainer: UNESCO heritage sites and why they matter Fortunately, Rwanda’s conservation space continues to gain global recognition as one that puts at the forefront communities surrounding protected areas and this is a good place to start for the researchers who look to tap into the new opportunities that come with this UNESCO status. In a nutshell, we need more research to show how best surrounding communities can be better involved in the conservation efforts and this is the only way to make it sustainable for generations to come, the same goal that the inscription strives to achieve. Finally, the development come at an opportune moment, when Rwanda looks to leverage her gains in biodiversity conservation to benefit from the carbon market, and this global attention means better opportunities for requisite investments.