MP Germaine Mukabalisa said that the article providing for a public institution in charge of management and development of national parks and nature reserves, to request their declassification (abolition) is vague and might weaken conservation efforts. She said this on November 9, as the Chamber of Deputies was voting on the bill governing national parks and nature reserves. The Lower House passed this bill on the same day. According to Article 17 of the bill, the authority – a public institution in charge of management and development of national parks and nature reserves, –may request the minister in charge of national parks and nature reserves to declassify a national park or a nature reserve and its buffer zone. It further provides that an order of the minister declassifies a national park or a state-owned nature reserve and its buffer zone. Mukabalisa, who holds a Masters in International Economics and Business Law, said that this article is imprecise, pointing out that it should at least provide for the basis for their abolition. She wondered what grounds the Minister will base on to abolish, with an order, a national park or a state-owned nature reserve and its buffer zone, yet the law is silent on circumstances under which that might be the case. “There should be the basics that resulted in that request. The law should stipulate the reasons for abolishing a park ... And if not, there should be another legal instrument [such as an order] providing for why, and what has happened [for the request to be worth it].” “I think this should be a major circumstance that the law should indicate, which we cannot leave to the discretion of anyone,” she said, suggesting that there should be tight measures requiring the person who wants to abolish a park to prove why they want to do so.” Underscoring the importance of forests, including providing good air that people and other living organisms need for their well-being, and mitigating climate change effects, she found it inadequate to state in the law that the authority may request that a park be abolished, without indicating the grounds on which that should be based. “I see that this [article] seems to take us many steps back in terms of environmental protection, and in showing the commitment that our country has in terms of environmental conservation,” she said. Meanwhile, Marie Alice Kayumba Uwera, the Chairperson of the Committee on Land, Agriculture, Livestock, and Environment, which analysed the bill, replied that the reasons that can lead to the abolition of a park are the same as those that were based on to establish it. She observed that the institution in charge of park management might deem it necessary to put an end to it, because of various reasons that it might put forward, in line with the country’s interests, adding that the request to get a park abolished might be granted or rejected depending on different factors. Currently, Rwanda has four national parks, namely Akagera; Nyungwe; Volcanoes; and Gishwati Mukura, and it is the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) that is responsible for the management and development of national parks and nature reserves.