With Rwanda’s keen interest to promote and maintain eco-tourism as one of the pillars of the national economy it was long expected that Gishwati will eventually join the Nyungwe Forest as a new national park, incidentally part of a deal struck between President Kagame and the founder of the Great Ape Trust Ted Townsend some years ago and now become a reality
The law that elevated Gishwati-Mukura into a national park was approved during the cabinet meeting that was held on October 15, led by H.E Paul Kagame.
The creation of a Gishwati Forest National Park has been a long awaited event and serves to underscore constantly voiced sentiments, that a committed and enlightened government can in fact change the future of a country for the better without trampling on its environment, destroying biodiversity and unsustainable exploitation of the natural resources.
Nyabihu district administration is excited about the cabinet approval to elevate Gishwati forest to a national park following its geographical location and tourist attractions.
Angela Mukaminani, vice-mayor for economic affairs in Nyabihu district disclosed that they are happy over the decision to make Gishwati a national park.
Understandably this development has been kept under wraps for a longer time.
“We informed Rwanda Development Board (RDB) about the tourist attractions of Gishwati. Many hills, farmlands and forests that attract the attention of people,” she said.
Nyiraminani added that guest houses and hotels are being set up to accommodate the growing number of tourists, saying it will promote investment and increase the economy of the district and the country at large.
Before 1994 Tutsi genocide, Gishwati forest had 280 acres per km2 but after the 1994 Tutsi genocide many Rwandan who returned from DRC settled on one part of the forest reducing its size to 7acres per square kilometer.
In a bid to restore Gishwati to its former glory, The Gishwati Area Conservation Program (GACP) began in 2007 with the collaboration of Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, and Great Ape Trust to protect the biodiversity of the Gishwati Forest area and stop some of the rapid degradation.
In the process of protecting the biodiversity of the forest, it was divided into three parts for cultivation, livestock farming and forestry. This resolved the problem of soil erosion that had been caused by the population.
Gishwati makes the biggest part of Nyabihu, Ngororero, Rubavu and Rutsiro district.