Rwanda has embarked on rehabilitation of Mukura-Gishwati natural reserve with the aim of conserving wildlife that is a major attraction to tourists increasingly visiting the country.
Government is also expected in the next few months to pass the bill into law that will upgrade the natural reserve into a full National park.
According to Rwanda Development Board (RDB) which is in charge of tourism, the countrygenerated $ 304.9 from 1,220, 000 tourists in 2014.
Of this, $ 213.43 (70%) was earned from permits paid to see rare mountain gorillas inhabiting the volcanic mountains.
Mukura-Gishwati is a major natural attraction hosting 60 tree species, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, and the mountain monkeys besides a dozen species of East African chimpanzees among others.
Its Located between Rubavu, Rutsiro, Ngororero and Nyabihu, Western part of the country,
Dr. Rose Mukankomeje, the Director General of Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) called for public support in the implementation of the rehabilitation project.
“Success of this project will benefit local communities, Rwanda and the world as a whole,” Dr.Mukankomeje told KT Press.
Rwanda launched the reserve rehabilitation project through public work, umuganda on June 5.
The reserve was encroached on by human activities which reduced it from initial size of 250,000
hectares in 1951 to its current 1000 hectares because of resettlement of people, farming, and illegal mining.
Human activities at the reserve led to devastating soil erosion within the forests and resulted into
severe landslides and floods.
Through the Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC), Rwanda will increase tree cover and restore indigenous woodland in deforested areas, according to REMA.
The country expects to limit poaching and other hostile activities in the park through several projects.
“We shall offer livestock population living close to the park,” Emmanuel Mazimpaka, vice mayor for economic affairs in Ngororero district told KT Press.
He added that bee keeping will be introduced. Roads and electricity will be extended to the the park area to improve trade.
These projects covering the reserve’s buffer zone will be supported by World Bank with a-5 year grant worth$ 9.53 million.
After Mukura-Gishwati reserve is upgraded to a National park status, it will be the Fourth national park after Volcanoes, Nyungwe and Akagera parks. With this Rwanda expects to hit $ 860 million target in tourism revenue in 2016.