Biodiversity in Rwanda
Rwanda is one of Africa’s most biodiverse regions. Its rich biodiversity is mostly conserved in three protected areas – Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park, and Nyungwe National Park – which cover almost 10 percent of the national territory. The landscape is made up of a variety of ecosystems, including the humid Afromontane forests; planted forests; savannahs; a large network of water bodies – lakes, rivers and wetlands – and large cropland and grazing areas.
These ecosystems host a rich variety of fauna and flora and globally outstanding species diversity. They account for 40 percent of Africa’s mammalian species, about half of the global population of mountain gorillas, and rare species like the golden monkey and the white and black colobus. The country has the largest mountain rainforests in Africa, which is home to closed-canopy forests, bamboo thickets, and open flower-filled marshes.
Due to human activity, Rwanda’s natural ecosystems have changed, as they continue to be under pressure from agricultural and industrial development, human settlement, tree cutting, species over-exploitation, introduction of alien invasive species, mining, poaching, poisoning and illegal wildlife hunting, encroachment on protected areas, and commercial fishing. Other factors negatively affecting the ecosystems include biopiracy of genetic materials, drought, floods, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
Rwanda has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since October 2014 and has made efforts to develop an enabling legal and institutional framework for the implementation of the Protocol. Some of the legal instruments relating to the management of the country’s biodiversity include a Ministerial Order governing access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use; the Organic Law No. 04/2005, which determines the modalities of protection, conservation, and promotion of the environment; Law No. 70/2013 of 02/09/2013, which governs biodiversity; and Law No. 31/2009 of 26/10/2009, which enforces protection of intellectual property rights. Rwanda developed its first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 2003 and adopted a Biodiversity Policy in 2011 and a Biodiversity Law in 2013. These instruments however need to be modified to adapt them for implementing Access to genetic resources Benefit-Sharing.
Current UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Activities
The UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project is supporting the revision and harmonization of the ministerial order, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and other legal instruments to make them more suitable for implementing ABS. Efforts are being made to strengthen partnerships and coordination among the various stakeholders, as well as to strengthen technical and institutional capacity and linkages with other international ABS instruments.
The project is facilitating advocacy and awareness-raising to secure political and community support and mobilize resources for sustainability of project activities. Support is being provided for the establishment of comprehensive database, information and monitoring systems for genetic resources and traditional knowledge, and the establishment of benefit-sharing mechanisms for agro-ecosystems production in the country.