The Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) is looking forward to partnering with a range of 1,000 land owners that neighbor the new Rwanda Safari tour destination of Gishwati-Mukura National Park on how they can manage the buffer zone and enhance their livelihoods.
The Government has already gathered a sum of Rwf 1billion to finance the community led development projects around the park in question. The Project coordinator of Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC) at REMA Mr. Patrick Nsabimana informed the land owners to study how the communities surrounding the Nyungwe Forest National Park have managed to do buffer zone preservation. Nyungwe is one of the famous destinations for travelers on Safaris in Rwanda known for adventure canopy walk, chimpanzee trekking and colobus monkey tracking.
Gishwati Mukura which is Rwanda’s fourth (4th) National Park and the latest addition in the Rwanda National Park portfolio covers 3,558ha rich in flora and fauna that include four (4) primate species namely; Golden Monkey, Eastern chimpanzee, Mountain Monkey and Blue monkey, birds and tree species that combine to make it an exciting potential Rwanda tour destination.
The owners of the land in the buffer zone are being urged to forego the food crop growing like beans, potatoes, beans, maize among others to prioritise tea, trees and pasture. Though this is being queried by the local people in fear of starvation, the REMA has already identified a sum of Rwf 1billion that will sustain the community until the new products like tea and trees reach production stage around five (5) or ten (10) years. This initiative is intended to neutralise human wildlife conflict and promote conservation.
The communities around Gishwati – Mukura National Park will also benefit from the 5% revenue sharing scheme once the park starts receiving visitors. Rwanda Development Board will take over the management of this park in March after which tourism development will be undertaken.
Apparently, the LAFREC project is undertaking the restoration of degraded landscape through rehabilitation of forests and biodiversity found within the forest reserves and enhancing sustainable land management in the agricultural lands amidst them. Silvo-pastoralism is also planned to be introduced in the central former Gishwati reserve rangelands.
The project that will run for five (5) years commenced last year and will undertake natural forest restoration (653 ha), buffer zone plantation restoration (500 ha), natural forest planting (700ha) along with sustainable land management on 1,406 ha that will see over 18 species of trees introduced. A range of 125 income generating projects in the community are anticipated to be supported so as to enhance their livelihood.
The elevation of Gishwati – Mukura forest to a National Park and all these efforts to promote sustainable management will definitely see the park rise to one of the must visit destinations and might not miss on the lists of what to explore among the world travellers planning safaris to Rwanda in the near future.