The region needs to improve lines of communication on conservation and how communities benefit from it.
The remarks were made at a meeting of conservationists working under the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC).
Participants included Volcanoes National Park wardens, members of women cooperatives, local leaders and development partners, among other stakeholders.
The two-day workshop in Musanze District, last week, aimed at discussing ways of assessing how conservation efforts are communicated and shared, challenges faced and the way forward.
“Conservation of this park is significant, we work in three countries and with various partners but we need to increase communication and information sharing with communities around the park,” said Teddy Musabe, GVTC deputy executive secretary.
She called for more women participation in conservation of parks in the region.
GVTC puts in place mechanisms for strategic, transboundary, collaborative management of greater virunga landscape.
Transboundary collaboration started in 1991 involving park authorities in the three countries namely DR Congo, Uganda and Rwanda.
“GVTC wants to see the role of a woman and historically marginalised people in conservation of regional parks,” Musabe said.
“We have similar problems such as water shortage and we play a role in water distribution among communities around the park, the projects are implemented in each country but the way we disseminate information among our communities is not effective,” she added.
“Insecurity in the area (DR Congo) threatens the region and tourists but there are activities we have to undertake to help international tourists get convinced that we are doing something great, we need to work together with all partners, including the media, to counter negative publicity. We work together to conserve national parks and promote peace in the region.”
Prosper Uwingeri, the chief park warden at Volcanoes National Park, shared experience on how communities around the Volcano National Park are benefitting from tourism through revenue sharing whereby 5 per cent of park revenue goes to community development activities.
“The national park has done a lot to help communities in fighting poverty through community sharing, development, conflict management and improvement of relations between the park and the community,” said Uwingeri.
He appealed for effective communication and training to enable wardens do their job well.
Vestine Mukangwije, one of the participants from Musanze, said the community used to be a threat to the park but currently they have joined efforts and they are reaping a lot from various activities they are involved in.
She added that they are ready to keep working with park officials to ensure information regarding the park’s conservation is effectively shared.