In the west of Rwanda there is a tropical mountain forest up to 2500m above sea level. At higher altitudes there are bamboo forests and alpine vegetation. In the inner highlands, on the other hand, the wet savannah predominates, which changes into a drier savannah in the east. In the floodplain of the Akagera there are many moisture-loving plants.
Due to the high population growth, more than 80% of the land area is used for agriculture, whereby the majority of the goods generated are used for self-sufficiency. The share of the forest in the country's surface area has meanwhile shrunk from 65% to 8% due to the growing demand for firewood for cooking and heating purposes on the one hand and the need to create cultivation and pasture areas on the other.
Rwanda has three nature reserves in which the original flora of the country has been preserved: Volcanoes National Park, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe National Park.
The mountain gorillas, known all over the world from the filming of Diane Fossey's life, are living in the Volcanoes National Park. The whole area is under strict protection, although one to two day tours to the gorillas are possible. They are already accustomed to tourists and a visit offers a deep insight into the social structure of a pack: A family association (on average 11 animals) consists of the head, the silverback with a size up to 2 meters, 3 to 4 females, which become 1.4 meters tall, and the offspring. Thanks to the protective measures, the population has increased by almost 50% to 480 animals (in 2010), but the animals are still threatened by poaching.
The Akagera National Park is located in the dry savannah region in the east of the country (also shown on the title page). It is crossed by extensive grass, shrub and bush savannahs and is dominated by the acacia trees that grow there. Before 1994 a great variety of species prevailed here, also with big game like elephants, rhinos, hippos and giraffes, but also antelopes, zebras, buffalos, impalas, warthogs, monkeys and crown cranes, to emphasize only the best known, were to be found here. Since 1994, however, due to the refugee movements and new settlements also within the park, the animal population is strongly threatened.
The mountain rainforest in the southwest of the country has a high ecological value for Rwanda also thanks to the rich number of plant species. The park is also home to various animal species such as amphibians, reptiles, chimpanzees, porcupines and various birds. It also has a large natural water reservoir.