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Rwanda's Gishwati Forest selected as site for historic conservation project
Date:1/14/2008

er Hajabakiga said. This is important to Gishwati, important to Rwanda and important to the world. To see the hills of Gishwati covered with forest again will be beautiful.

Following meetings with MINITERE, REMA, NAFA, the Rwandan office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), the National University of Rwanda, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Great Ape Trust, four goals were established for the Gishwati project:

  • Create Rwanda National Conservation Park, defined as conservation of biodiversity in an extensively degraded landscape, populated with low-income small-scale agriculturalists.
  • Restore ecosystem services in the form of improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and flooding, fewer landslides and increased sequestration of carbon.
  • Restore natural biodiversity with special emphasis on chimpanzees as a keystone and flagship species.
  • Generate income through ecotourism, investment opportunity and local employment.

Poverty is a threat to conservation, so we must simultaneously protect and study the Gishwati chimpanzees, expand their forest habitat, and foster the economic development of the local human population, Beck said. Great Ape Trust will be the first international conservation organization to focus on Gishwati. This is a formidable but exciting challenge. We and our Rwandan partners are developing some innovative and ambitious solutions that will make this a model. President Kagames inspiring recognition of the importance of biodiversity is a driving force for our efforts. .

Once the second-largest indigenous forest in Rwanda, Gishwati extended 1,0002 km (100,000 hectares or 250,000 acres) in the early 1900s. By the late 1980s, Gishwati was about one-fourth its original size. Resettlement by refugees following the 1994 genocide reduced the forest to about 62 km (600 hectares or 1,500 acres). Reforestation efforts during the past several years have increased Gishwatis forest
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Contact: Al Setka
asetka@greatapetrust.org
515-243-3580
Great Ape Trust of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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