Greater Virunga Landscape: Stakeholders Call for a Regional Treaty on Conservation

From 2010 up to now, experts from the three partner States (Rwanda, Uganda & DRC) have been negotiating to harmonize their comments on the project of the future Transboundary Collaboration Treaty for biodiversity and natural resources conservation in the Greater Virunga Landscape.

From 2010 up to now, experts from the three partner States (Rwanda, Uganda & DRC) have been negotiating to harmonize their comments on the project of the future Transboundary Collaboration Treaty for biodiversity and natural resources conservation in the Greater Virunga Landscape.

During this year, crucial consultations were held from the 19th to the 21st March and from the 13rd to the 14th at Grant Legacy Hotel in Kigali (Rwanda).  Those consultations were moderated by Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, Head of Tourism Department at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and  GVTC President Board; and the three delegations from the partner States were led by Mr. Alex Ruzibukira (from Rwandan Ministry of Trade & Industry), Mr. James Lutalo (Ugandan Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities), and Dr Cosma Wilungula (DRC ICCN Managing Director).

It should be noted that after their consultations on last May, Experts from the partner countries recognized the importance of the Treaty aimed at the cross-border collaboration legalizing for a sustainable conservation in the Greater Virunga Landscape. It is within framework that experts urged the responsible ministers to submit, as soon as they can, the Transboundary Collaboration Treaty to their respective governments for analysis, ownership and signature.

The wish of experts seems to be taken into consideration by Line ministers and their respective governments. Indeed, it is expected that the Treaty will be signed at the last of August 2015 in Kinshasa between the partner States of the Transboundary collaboration, namely the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to strengthen joint efforts on conservation and tourism so that socioeconomic development of the populations of the Greater Virunga Landscape may be improved.

The cross-border space shared by the partner countries and on which the said Treaty is related to comprises the Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda); the Virunga National Park & the Sarambwe Wildlife Reserve (in DRC), and the following Ugandan Parks: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, and Semuliki National Park (in Uganda).

According to Mr. James Lutalo, the Ugandan Commissioner in Charge of Wildlife in the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities quoted by the New Vision of July 23, 2015, “the three countries have come up with a draft agreement and they are currently involved in consultations”. In conclusion, Mr. James Lutalo said Uganda wants a regional treaty which will certainly enhance the governments’ commitment to the conservation of the Virunga landscape.

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