Linking tourism, conservation and community development

Rwanda’s amazing natural heritage, Images: Ravenswood Media

Rwanda’s amazing natural heritage, Images: Ravenswood Media

An insight into the work of IE Institutional Member, Red Rocks Initiative from Rwanda.

 Ravenswood Media and Red Rocks Initiative recently held a filmmaking class for national park rangers, trackers and guides. The training provides Rwandans with a media voice in the global discussion of our changing environment and shines a spotlight on the amazing heritage of the Volcanoes National Park.

The wildlife filmmaking class have completed their first film, One Health Rwanda. The students surpassed our hopes by using their new skills to produce a film that not only highlights Rwanda’s stunning wildlife but also addresses the critical issue of planetary health.

The film introduces the One Health concept, explains why One Health is important for Rwanda, and explores how human, animal, and ecosystem health are linked together. You can watch the short film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWxrgpo2qKc

Red Rocks Initiative for Sustainable Development came from an idea from Red Rocks Rwanda, an ecotourism company and social enterprise that promotes sustainable tourism through community and cultural programmes. It brings under-served communities into the tourism supply chain and supports community development projects that help people help themselves. The initiatives are based on the principle that sustainable tourism and community-driven environmental conservation are effective tools for poverty eradication when done correctly and in an inclusive manner.

The wildlife filmmaking project was one of many projects that are helping the local community gain access to education, health care, and sustainable income that honours their traditional way of life, protecting their heritage for future generations. A respectful environment is created where the local community feels comfortable with tourists and we work to position conservation as a competitive land use that delivers benefits to local communities, creates jobs, stimulates local micro-enterprise development, promotes local procurement, develops skills and knowledge, and ultimately improves livelihoods within the Volcanoes National Park.

The work of the Red Rocks Initiative is really wide-reaching. Some of the other projects have included:

  • partnering with government institutions to preserve community cultural heritage for tourism and organising and conducting annual Cultural Harvest Season festivals as preservation of culture and heritage, with the overall goal of increasing public awareness of our nation’s cultural and natural heritage
  • working with community partners and cooperatives to host farm tours and activities such as planting indigenous fruit trees and learning about domestic farm animals and horticulture
  • promoting artists to preserve the national park’s animals and plants that can’t speak for themselves
  • supporting small-scale dairy farmers to improve livestock nutrition, facilitate healthcare for women-headed families and discourage them from poaching for meat in the park
  • enabling women to learn skills from which they may earn income by selling woven baskets, mats, and other artisanal pieces
  • training farmers to maintain organic agriculture practices to conserve biodiversity as well as create a culture of financial savings for sustainable development
  • preserving traditional plant species with historic and medicinal value
  • promoting educational opportunities, including volunteer-led English programmes and computer literacy, as a way to expand local youths’ resources and broaden their horizons
  • using sports to bring together communities and individuals to discuss environmental conservation
  • working with local communities on all aspects of healthcare, including clean water, nutrition, women’s health, family planning, hygiene and sanitation
  • supporting single mothers and vulnerable populations to secure permanent housing and facilitate long-term education for children
  • developing a community-based literature and art programme that includes cinema, music, theatre, poetry, drama, storytelling, sewing, and a school children’s library – all designed to improve community livelihood around the Volcano Massif.

Gregory Bakunzi works for the Red Rocks Initiative for Sustainable Development, based in the Northern Province, Musanze Town, Rwanda. Red Rocks Initiative is an IE Institutional Member. You can find out more at: www.redrocksinitiative.org. Gregory can be contacted at: [email protected].

To cite this article: Bakunzi, Gregory (2022) ‘Linking tourism, conservation and community development’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 4-2022, pg.20-21

Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Newsletter-2022_4-winter.pdf

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