Virunga National Park, established in 1925, is one of the most remarkable places on the planet. It has the greatest variety of wildlife found anywhere in Africa, with more than 200 species of mammals including elephants, chimpanzees and gorillas.
But in the last two decades, the park has come under huge pressure. The Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the civil wars that have raged across the region since 1996 brought an influx of refugees and widespread migration from rural areas to urban centres. The growing population has meant a massive rise in demand for wood fuel – which accounts for more than 91 per cent of energy consumption in DRC, as access to electricity is very limited.
Outside the park, the area is almost completely deforested. In 2007 WWF set up a large-scale reforestation project, called Ecomakala, in order to prevent further loss and degradation of forests within the park. In alignment with NGP principles, the project has brought social, environmental and economic benefits to the area.