Des Moines, Iowa February 1, 2010 Efforts will begin this year to expand the Gishwati National Conservation Park in Rwanda by 21 percent and begin the development of a 30-mile (50 km) forest corridor to Nyungwe National Park for a group of 14 chimpanzees facing extinction. Organizers of the Gishwati Area Conservation Program (GACP) say that in 2010 they will fund reforestation of 647 acres (262 hectares) in the Kinyenkanda area of Rutsiro District in Rwanda's Western Province.
Those efforts will increase the size of the Gishwati National Conservation Park from 3,018 acres (1,222 hectares) to 3,665 acres (1,484 hectares) and stabilize steep hillsides in an area that has been plagued by landslides and severe erosion into the Sebeya River. Approximately 150 families trying to establish small, intensive household farm plots on very steep slopes had occupied Kinyenkanda. Once cleared of trees and native vegetation, the soil eroded continuously into the Sebeya River, seriously degrading water quality.
"The water quality of the Sebeya River is linked to the health of local people and the national economy," said Dr. Benjamin Beck, director of the Gishwati Area Conservation Program. "The Sebeya is not only an important source of drinking water for local residents but it also provides hydroelectric power and water for beverage production downstream."
The Rwandan national government has begun to restore the Sebeya River and the Rutsiro District government completed last November the resettlement of the 150 Kinyenkanda families. The Gishwati Area Conservation program provided both conflict resolution services during the resettlement and funding to acquire land for new homes.
"Now, Kinyenkanda must be reforested. This will stabilize the hillsides and reduce erosion into the Sebeya, helping to restore its clarity and economic usefulness," Beck said. "Since Kinyenkanda has been added to the Gishwati National Conservation Park, reforesta
|Contact: Al Setka|
Great Ape Trust of Iowa