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Rwanda will be the regional headquarters of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) after President Paul Kagame signed a decree on the establishment of its headquarters in his country. The Wildlife Conservation Society is a non-profit international organization that is responsible for the conservation of wildlife and the management of parks around the world.

WCS’s goal is to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 14 priority regions which are homes to more than 50 percent of the world’s biodiversity. A presidential decree authorizing WCS to have a seat in Rwanda was published in the Official Gazette dated December 31, 2021, a report from Kigali said.

The Wildlife Conservation Society will be licensed to have infrastructure in Rwanda including buildings, land, equipment, offices, laboratories, and other facilities that will assist in fulfilling its obligations under the terms of the agreement signed by both parties.

The agreement also stipulates that the equipment that the WCS will need in its day-to-day work will be eligible for tax exemption and that the Government of Rwanda will make it easier for Visa to have its international staff working in Rwanda. These workers and their families will have the same immunity and opportunity as others on their local level, the report said.

The WCS presence in Rwanda will help in implementing wildlife conservation projects in other countries as to address the impacts of climate change. The organization also carry out research on biodiversity, cross-border conservation and biodiversity activities, and identifies solutions to problems that threaten the natural resources.

A Rwanda cabinet meeting had approved in December last year, the request to nominate Nyungwe National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nyungwe Park is worth US$4.8 billion by its value and feeds 2 of the world’s largest rivers – the Congo and the Nile. It is also the source of at least 70 percent of Rwanda’s freshwater.

The conservation and climate resilient project dubbed “Building Resilience of Vulnerable Communities to Climate Variability in Rwanda’s Congo Nile Divide through Forest and Landscape Restoration” will be implemented around Nyungwe National Park, Volcano National Park, and Gishwati-Mukura National Park.

Gishwati-Mukura landscape has already been recognized internationally after being designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve, while Volcano National Park known for its mountain gorillas was designated as biosphere reserve many years ago. - Apolinari Tairo, eTurboNews

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