Managing National Parks inevitably contains conflicts and contradictions. As scarce natural resources and assets in the community and the planet, National Parks should be conserved, preserved and protected for the public. At the same time, however, they should be provided for their use and enjoyment by the public. Moreover, in order to maintain National Parks, costs have to be financed by generating funds internally and/or externally. Especially in developing countries where necessary funds cannot be fully financed by governments and also the neighborhood depends on natural resources for their living, maintaining National Parks is extremely difficult, resulting in illegal or unsustainable use.
Our project is associated with how to manage a National Park. None of us have an experience or background of wildlife conservation, and had been to Rwanda.
It has been already more than two weeks since we came to Rwanda. Thanks to the client, our schedule is so well organized that we have been able to talk with key stakeholders, including central government officials, NGOs, National Park staff, local communities among others.
The objective of the park is simple: “conservation of wildlife”. In order for Rwanda to achieve this objective, however, the Government has to support relatively poorer local communities, who traditionally used the park for subsistence, and have them understand the importance of the park.
Then, supporting local communities requires human resources, funding, which could be internal (revenue from revenue or economic development) and/or external (subsidies or investment/philanthropy), infrastructure/equipment/technology, and information/expertise.
Where and how do those come from? How should they be best used? Given limited resources, how could the park be more efficiently managed? Those are the questions we have to solve. There is no right answer.
I found one article interesting, which says “bio-diversity and ecosystems are luxuries poor neighbors cannot afford”. This is true even for developed countries.