Strategies under the Scope of Environmental Economics — Virguna National Park, Rwanda

3 min readOct 27, 2022

Approaching Virguna National Park in Rwanda

Figure 1: Rwandan woman stride towards Mont Bisoke

Environmental economics refers to evaluation of environmental value from quantifying benefits, costs, incentives and impacts of alternation options using economic principles and statistical technique. Basically, like every environmental studies, it advocates nature conservation or sustainable development, but does not resort to emotion, instead to numbers.

In the first week in SACOLA, I has been introduced to Rwanda Development Board (RDB), who owns the Virugna National Park Headquarter, providing official ecotours. The information can be found at Visit Rwanda. The first impression was modern, well-organised and English-friendly compared to Musanze local community. I received abundant information about national parks and I discovered one crucial thing: permit cost to visit anything in the national park is considerable high for foreigners.

Figure 2: Rwanda Development Board in Kigali

Afterwards, I went back to office, and started some research. I read an article “The Success of Tourism in Rwanda: Gorillas and More”, published by World Bank. It reviews some sociological research and provides insights.

Willingness-to-Pay for Conservation

The purpose for this type of research quantifies the environment value by how much money people would like to pay for environmental good or improvement in environmental quality. It is characterizes by:

  1. Monetary value of environmental services can be estimated
  2. Simple method for researcher, no anchoring of responses

Also it is based on some assumptions:

(1) Theory of rational choice, consumer sovereignty, based on neoclassical economics

(2) Individual has a consistent and complete set of preference over goods and services

(3) Utility function: most preferred consumption bundle is represented by the highest utility level.

Bush, Hanley and Colombo (2008) have done a research finding WTP for biodiversity conservation, for both gorillas and other wildlife of gorilla trekking tourists[1]. Furthermore, Bush and Fawcett (2007) conducts a research. It indicates that price increase had a significant impact on the demographics of visitors to the mountain gorillas[2].

Figure 3: The influence of price rise in tourist visitation by income group and length of trip [2]

These cost-related research show somewhat gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park can be sharpened into an optimum, according to what RDB would like to focus on. Is it the conversation program? Or revenue from tourists?

After the pilot review by myself, I decided to work into local community and discover what role do they play in this business.


Rational choice: individuals use rational calculations to make rational choices and achieve outcomes that are aligned with their own personal objectives.

Consumer sovereignty: a theory that consumer preferences determine the production of goods and services

Consumption bundle: represents a basket of combinations of goods and services that people want to consume


1. Bush, G., N. Hanley, and S. Colombo. 2008. “Measuring the Demand for Nature-based Tourism in Africa: A Choice Experiment Using the ‘Cut-off’ Approach.” Discussion Paper 2008–06, Stirling Economics, University of Stirling, Stirling, U.K.

2. Bush, G., and K. Fawcett. 2007. “An Economic Study of Mountain Gorilla Tourism in the Virunga Volcanoes Conservation Area.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Ruhengeri, Rwanda.