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On the 21st July 2016, GVTC started a two-day meeting at Le Palme Hotel in Musanze (Rwanda) that aims at harmonizing area based rules in the Greater Virunga Landscape. Participants attending this meeting are Chief Wardens, Community Conservation Area Managers, Law Enforcement and Monitoring & Evaluation Experts from DRC, Rwanda & Uganda, as well as some GVTC staff members as facilitators.

In his welcome remarks, Mr. Fidele Ruzigandekwe, the Deputy Executive Secretary in Charge of Programs, thanked the participants from mother institutions for having shown interest for this important meeting. Mr. Fidele Ruzigandekwe reminded that the harmonization of based area rules within the Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL) is a process initiated by GVTC and laws are very important for a better conservation, by providing a working framework. However, the three countries have their different laws, cultures, history, and those laws were initiated from different contexts, for people or by people having different ways of thinking and because of that the harmonization of those laws is not easy but the differences may be addressed to have a consent for a sustainable conservation within the GVL. The harmonization is a long process, as well as a daunting task since we have to take into account the sovereignty of each country. Nevertheless, we need to negotiate the changes that are needed in that process to improve natural resources conservation within GVL. Mr Fidele Ruzigandekwe referred to the GVTC Treaty finally signed in 2015 after more than 10 years of consultations and negotiations and thanks to that Treaty signed by the three countries; the harmonization process of area based rules for conservation may be faster.

Area based rules are local laws or practices set up by state institutions to help make progress in conservation, solve issues on the ground. Discussing those local laws and practices during this meeting will allow participants share their experiences according their respective countries. Participants from Rwanda and Uganda joined the meeting while those from DRC have not attended yet due to an unforeseen impediment.

The GVTC Executive Secretary Deputy seized this opportunity to announce to participants that GVTC will organize two workshops next week in Entebbe (Uganda). The first one will focus on the implementation of the Center of Excellence for information sharing among conservation stakeholders while the second one will deal with Climate change, which is an important aspect since it is also a current topic for natural resources and biodiversity management around the world.

Those welcome remarks were followed by the presentation given by Mr. James Byamukama, the GVTC Program Manager, who outlined the context of GVTC as an interstate mechanism to coordinate conservation efforts within the GVL.

Mr. David Karuhanga, the GVTC Legal Advisor, presented the area based rules, focusing on their status, policy objectives, and actions within the GVL, namely for Rwanda and Uganda. For instance, it was reported that 5% of the total gross revenue are allocated to Rwandan communities and recommendations have been made and submitted to decision-makers to increase this to 10%. For the Ugandan side, one of the are based rules is that 20% of the conservation revenue benefit to communities around the protected areas to enhance relations between the protected areas and their neighboring communities.

GVTC Communication Service