Cultivating honey
Honey is a key renewable resource in Rwanda’s forests. But many honey harvesters burn the forest to keep bees away while they claim the honey. A program at the Nyungwe National Park teaches harvesters to use both modern and traditional techniques. The bees feed upon native forest-rich flowers, then produce the honey in combs placed around the park, where it can be easily harvested, keeping the forest for the birds and the trees.

In April 2010, the Oakland-based non-profit Art Works for Change invited the Venezuelan photographer Antonio Briceno to Rwanda to capture stories and images of its people, economics, and biodiversity for the exhibition Millions of Pieces, now on show in Kigali, Rwanda. In 2011, Millions of Pieces will combine with additional artworks to create an international traveling contemporary art exhibition titled Nature’s Toolbox. Captions and images courtesy of Art Works for Change.
Cooperative beekeeping
John Bosco Ukurikiyeyezu heads the Kitabi cooperative just outside the park. The flowers of Hagenia abisinica are favorites of the bees and are abundant in the Nyungwe.
Harvesting tea
Tea plantations have taken root where native mountain forests flourished for millennia. Traditionally, forests have been cleared to feed those whose livelihood depends on harvesting tea. On the other hand, plantations developed alongside the national parks create easily identified borders that can protect the forests, helping to guard from poachers and furtive woodcutters.
Sustainable farming
Evelyne Mukandekeze is one of the hundreds of workers who benefit from the tea plantations at the Gisakura Tea Factory.
Discovering plants that heal
Tropical forests are a rich source of medicinal plants. Most of their benefits are not yet known, but the healers of ancient cultures have shown the way. Their indigenous knowledge combined with the world’s growing use of medicinal plants has encouraged local doctors to create gardens in which they can grow their tools for healing.
Medicine man
Near Musanze, at the feet of the Volcanoes National Park, a garden of medicinal plants is harvested by a group of traditional doctors for both local and remote patients. Doctor David Bizimana works at Nyange and, among other plants, uses the gasaho to treat asthma.
Examining a mysterious species
The Cercostachis scandens dominates with the Nyungwe forest and was critical to the diet of its elephants. But the last elephant was killed off in 1999. Since then, the plant has become an uncontrolled pest. It flowers every 15 years, and legend has it that every time it flowers there are epidemics, natural disasters, wars, and other tragedies. The last time it flowered was 1994, the year of the genocide.
Guiding conservation
Daniel Niyonsaba is an excellent guide of the Niungwe National Park. His knowledge of nature is unparalleled and he helps to remind visitors of all that has been lost due to human carelessness.
Preserving waterways
Rwanda is a very rainy country on whose mountains are born two of the world’s major rivers: the Nile and the Congo. But its extremely dense population puts it on the list of the countries with sever water deficit problems. Protecting its water resources is a high priority to Rwanda for its midterm survival.
Gathering water
Jeannete Uwineza gathers her family's daily use of water at a public fountain in Ngwenyu, Kigali.
Using tourism to save wildlife
The survival of tropical forests depends on a highest extent on the seed dispersers--birds and other critters that eat plants and spread the seeds through their droppings. Indeed, a forest without seed dispersers is a dead forest. Wildlife tourism in the Rwanda helps save seed dispersers and their ecosystems. Guided tours at the Nyungwe National Park, where the visitors can choose the type of animals they wish to meet during their walks, such as the great blue turaco, a highlight for many birdwatchers.
Guiding the ecosystem
Alphonse Nsengiyumva orientates and sells the tickets for the visitors to the Nyungwe National Park.
Increasing alternative fuels
Most of the Rwandan population relies on firewood for cooking and heating. This has put the jungles and forests at risk. Several projects are trying to increase the use of alternative fuels, such as the methane gas produced by the treatment of the organic disposals from towns, schools, or even jails.
Powering a community
Anastasia Nyranenza and her children have to walk long distances along the roads to find the wood for their basic use, close to the town of Kayonza.
Preventing overfishing
The lakes in Africa are plentiful and famous for their diversity of species. However, the large percentage of the population surrounding the lakes that relies on fishing to survive has depleted fish stocks to a distressing level. One result is that both the number and size of fish caught by locals is declining over time as a result of overfishing.
Fishing for security
Nepo and Diedone Bivugire derive their income fishing tilapia at Lake Ihema, in Akagera National Park. Among papyrus and hippos, wooden traditional canoes move them over the shrinking shoals of fishes.
Protecting wetlands
Swamps and marshes are home to myriad species of birds, amphibians, mammals, insects, reptiles, and plants. Unhappily, they are being drained and dried worldwide for many different purposes. The Kamiranzovu swamp, in Nyungwe National Park, is protected but remains at risk due to soil erosion from road-building, which takes mud to its pristine waters and threatens its flow. Nearby farmers, who depend upon its waters for irrigation, suffer, too.
Responsible cultivation
Leliance Uwimana prepares the soil for planting near Gisakura, within the borders of the national park. Like many others, she depends on the Kamiranzovu’s protection for her survival.
Saving Rwanda's gorillas
The mountain gorillas are the most emblematic animals of Rwanda. The Virunga Massif, shared by Uganda, Congo and Rwanda, shelters half of the world’s mountain gorillas population. Tours to the permanently monitored gorilla families at Volcanoes National Park help support local communities with the construction of such things as water tanks, schools, and agricultural projects, revenue that encourages locals to protect gorillas. The Ibiyiwa Culture Village at Nyabigoma was formed by ex-poachers who have shifted from hunting to tourism.
Gorillas in his midst
Rurengo Enok, a traditional Pygmy medicine man, receives the visitors with his imposing presence, among the dancers and musicians.
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