he Members of Rwandan Parliament have accepted the draft law that will see Gishwati-Mukura Forest turned into a national Park that can always be visited on Rwanda safaris. Located in the district of Rutsiro and Ngororero in the Rwanda’s Western Province, the forest Reserve will receive the national park status if the law is assented
Besides the initial land covered by the forest Reserve, more 30 ha of
land at the boundaries of the forest will be gazetted and set as a
buffer zone in order to ensure the free animal movement within the park.
The people who have been residing in the buffer to be area will be
relocated accordingly by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The plan to convert the forest of Gishwati-Mukura into a National Park
comes in line of the country’s plan to increase the forest cover to 30%
of the entire Rwanda’s surface area. The new National Park will be
covering a geographical spread of 3,427.46 ha as a combination of Mukura
forest (1,987.74 ha) and Gishwati forest (1,439.72 ha) and is believed
to become of the famous Rwanda safari attractions.
The Buffer zone of 992.48ha set to prevent human encroachment has been
identified by the government and a range of 150 households will be
vacated from the planned buffer zone. It can be noted that the natural
forests were initially identified in 1933 as forest conservation zones
however in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the area was
almost depleted. This was followed by landslides, soil erosion and
flooding. In fact, the forest which was covering an area of 250,000 ha
at the beginning had decreased to 28,000 ha in the 1980s.
The idea to see these forest reserves turn into national Park arouse in
the year 2007 and it is such an exciting moment to see it becoming a
reality. As the stakeholders are coming in to pay their respective
roles, the call to prioritize the relocation of the affected groups and
then others would follow including; developing the tourism
infrastructure that will enable the travellers on safaris in Rwanda to visit the site.
The Forest features a range of impressive flora and fauna including four
(4) primate Species namely; the golden monkeys, the Eastern
Chimpanzees, mountain monkey and the blue monkey. It also features
mammals like black-fronted duiker, red river hog and southern tree
hyrax. The forest is also a home to over sixty (60) tree species among
which include the Bamboo and indigenous hardwoods. These would be
impressive to encounter on Rwanda safari. The creation of the park is
believed to create employment opportunities including the tourist
guiding jobs, art and craft making, entertainment and in hotels.
Rwanda apparently features three National Parks distributed in different
parts of the country and with varied habitat and the wildlife that they
support. Nyungwe Forest National Park features a mountainous forested
landscapes in the south west of Rwanda and is the major home of
Chimpanzees, Akagera National Park to the East of Rwanda features an
impressive savannah landscapes that supports great count of savannah
game including lions, elephants, Buffaloes and a range of antelopes and
lastly Volcanoes National Park in the country’s north west and is the
home of the critically endangered mountain gorillas that are encountered
on gorilla safaris in Rwanda