SNAPP TEAM:Rwanda Natural Capital Accounting
How can natural capital be integrated into Rwanda’s national economic accounts to help reach their 2020 goal to reduce poverty below 30% and sustain 11.5% annual economic growth?

Research institutions and organizations like The United Nations and World Bank are calling to improve the current measure of national wealth to incorporate equity and nature conservation. Rwanda is one of the World Bank’s pilot countries for “natural capital accounting,” or determining the value of the non-market services provided by nature. This team’s work will directly support Rwanda’s development planning process through various economic development programs such as Vision 2020, Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), Crop Intensification Program, and Green Growth Strategy, among others.


OUR APPROACH: The group tackled this challenge by quantifying the economic values of natural regions in Rwanda, exploring and identifying economic tradeoffs associated with different natural resource management options, and identifying innovative financing mechanisms that encourage investment in natural capital.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenge: Social Innovations

National Park Fees Capture Value

The results of value estimation survey data from visitors to Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park were analyzed and integrated into southwest Rwanda’s regional Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) for a manuscript focusing on tourism policy in Nyungwe National Park. The study found that increasing national park fees for high-income foreign tourists can bolster the national economy, improve conservation, and aid continued peace-building.

Predicting Economic Responses to Policy Changes

The team developed an economic model using land account data in conjunction with Rwanda’s blueprint for an Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy to create a land use allocation manuscript that accounts for economic responses to changes in land use policy. The team’s work also provides a methodological framework to integrate natural capital into a system of national accounts.

Change in Ecosystem Services

Increased population and landcover change has led to a decrease in ecosystem services (ES) in Rwanda from 1990-2015. The team has modeled several different ES such as carbon storage and sediment retention. The implications of this study shine a light on the importances of protected areas in safeguarding ES flows in Rwanda and act as a baseline to inform development strategies that better link economic and environmental goals.


“Data on protection of upstream watersheds will be useful in managing water for hydroelectric power, irrigation, and public supply in the face of climate change. The natural capital accounting steering committee in Rwanda, established to guide the development of World Bank WAVES project in Rwanda, can use lessons learnt from this working group to move their work forward.”

-Janaki Alavalapati, Team Leader

Key Products
Building Resilience of Vulnerable Communities to Climate Variability in Rwanda’s Congo Nile Divide through Forest and Landscape Restoration

This proposal approved for funding by the Green Climate Fund in late 2023 awards nearly $40 million to Rwanda’s Ministry of Environment and Rwanda Forestry Agency, working in partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society, to help build resilience in communities vulnerable to climate variability in the Congo Nile Divide. This proposal comes in part from the results of SNAPP’s working group Rwanda Natural Capital Accounting.

Financing the sustainable management of Rwanda’s protected areas

This publication in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism quantitatively explores the economic impacts of adjusting Nyungwe National Park visitation fees to improve Park tourism opportunities and operations.

Natural capital accounting integration critical for sustainable economic growth

This study published in Forest Policy and Economics provides a methodological framework to integrate natural capital into a system of national accounts.

Towards ecosystem accounts for Rwanda: Tracking 25 years of change in flows and potential supply of ecosystem services

In the publication Nature and People, the team developed ecosystem service models to quantify ecosystem conditions in Rwanda from 1990-2015.

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Janaki Alavalapati
Auburn University
Sofia Ahlroth
The World Bank
Ken Bagstad
The World Bank; US Geological Survey (USGS)
Mediatrice Bana
Wildlife Conservation Society
Onil Banerjee
Inter-American Development Bank
Eron Bloomgarden
Encourage Capital
Fred Boltz
Rockefeller Foundation
Marie-Laetitia Busokeye
Rwanda Environment Management Authority
Jane “Carter” Ingram
Pollination Group
Innocent Kabenga
Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Rwanda Program
Godfrey Kabera
Rwanda Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning
Pankaj Lal
Montclair State University
Glenn-Marie Lange
Senior Economist (World Bank) and Environment for Development Initiative
Michael Masozera
Wildlife Conservation Society
Jensen Montambault
The Nature Conservancy; University of Queensland
Rodrigue Mugabo
Wildlife Conservation Society
Emmanuel Nkurunziza
Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD)
Thomas Ochuodho
University of Kentucky
Stephen Polasky
University of Minnesota
Claudine Uwera
University of Rwanda
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