Supporting Sustainable Tourism Development in Central Africa
Trail expert Matt Woodson, left, directs the team creating a new trail up Nyiragongo Volcano in Virunga National Park in April 2018. The U.S. Forest Service International Programs, supported by USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, is working with Virunga National Park and local communities to improve tourist hiking trails as well as create a more accessible trail up the volcano. This trail has a low gradient, which will allow local school groups to climb the volcano, and due to its route, will help rangers dissuade illegal charcoal and poaching operations in the park. Building capacity of national park staff to promote ecotourism not only improves visitor experience and creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities, but also puts the park on track for long-term financial stability, an essential step in the long-term protection of these landscapes, and the preservation of the forests within them.