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Participants in group photo

GVTC stands as a Mechanism for strategic, transboundary, collaborative management of the Greater Virunga Landscape. Set up by Congolese Institute of Conservation and Nature-ICCN, Rwanda Development Board by the time ORTPN and Uganda Wildlife Authority with their partners in the region.

The Heads of the three institutions and 3 technical designates from the three countries make up the board of Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration on which the Director of International Gorilla Conservation Program sits as advisor.

In their second meeting for the year 2012, board members welcomed the progress of collaboration between the three countries and discussed the progress and the future of the collaboration in Greater Virunga landscape.

Dr Cosma Wilungula, Director General of ICCN and chairman of the collaboration lauded the comment as every member has attended despite tense periods of diplomacy between member countries. “Political disputes will someday come to an end but conservation will never end, this is our working strength†argued Dr Wilungula.

The meeting discussed various points among them steps to finalise the signing of the draft treaty which will guide the transboundary collaboration and which is at its final stage. They also agreed collaborate in bring about a common regional tourism mechanism like a single mountain gorilla permit booking as well as diversifying tourism products.

A particular attention was given to collaboration in this period of armed conflicts in Eastern DR Congo which affected the work in Virunga National Park . The board members expressed concern about the reported tracking of gorillas in the Mikeno Sector and strongly urged against all activities that endanger the lives of visitors to Virunga National Park as well as the wildlife especially the mountain gorillas. They urged all stakeholders to discourage any tourism that is not authorised and conducted by ICCN staff who have the professional ability to provide these services.

The meeting also discussed the progress of implementation by the Executive Secretariat for all planned activities. They commended the Secretariat for working with WWF East Africa Regional office in securing 3,9 million USD three-year grant from the Netherlands government through the Netherlands embassy in Kigali that will focus on supporting watershed management, private sector-community partnership for tourism development, developing the capacity of stakeholders on oil, mining and geothermal impact monitoring as well as transboundary collaboration. It was oberseved that the grant will also support the conclusion of the draft treaty.

Also commended was the one-year support received from the Royal Norway government worthy 4million Kroner. This is being facilitated through a joint venture with International Gorilla Conservation Programme. The board urged  the secretariat to work towards implementing all key results areas as listed in the transboundary strategic plan

The meeting agreed that GVTC Secretariat will continue to undertake collaboration work for and on behalf of Greater Virunga transboundary protected areas.

The Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration started with ranger collaboration to protect mountain gorillas in Mgahinga, Bwindi, Virunga and Volcanoes NPs in 1991. It has expanded in scope (tourism, community conservation and research and monitoring). Its operational area now extends to central and north Virunga (DRC), Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks (Uganda).

In 2008 GVTC Executive Secretariat was set up in Kigali to coordinate and link stakeholders on behalf of the Protected Area Authorities.