December 2020 – As part of their conservation programme for the Gishwati sector of Rwanda’s Gishwati-Mukura National Park (GMNP), Wilderness Safaris (WS) and Forest of Hope Association (FHA) have developed a nursery just outside the park, which now contains almost 10 000 indigenous trees, which will be planted by the end of the year.
The 9 544 indigenous tree saplings were nurtured and grown by FHA agronomist, Beatrice Nyiransabimana, and will be planted in the 10 hectares of land that Wilderness Safaris has purchased neighbouring the forest. “Our ultimate goal is to reforest this area so that we can expand the park in the future. We are so proud of Beatrice’s achievements to date, and look forward to planting the rest of the saplings by the end of 2020”, notes Wilderness Safaris Rwanda MD, Rob Baas.
On 3 November, the FHA and surrounding community organised a special Umuganda, which translates as “coming together with a common purpose to achieve an outcome”. In traditional Rwandan culture, members of the community would call upon their family, friends and neighbours to help them complete a task. The purpose of the Umuganda at Gishwati was to plant as many saplings as possible, in order to assist the reforestation programme.
“More than 80 community members joined us for this special day, and 770 trees were planted. We have subsequently continued to plant the remaining saplings, and are getting ready to grow new seedlings for next year’s planting season”, says Beatrice.
All of the indigenous trees in the nursery, including Ficus sp, Symphonia globilifera, Maesopsis eminii, Xymalos monospora, Albizia adianthifolia, Strombosia and more,are originally found in Gishwati Forest, and will contribute to the restoration of habitat for the bird- and wildlife.
“Gishwati Forest has suffered a 98% reduction in size and forest cover since the 1970s. This has resulted in environmental degradation, with landslides, erosion, loss of biodiversity, flooding and silted rivers, which impact the downstream hydro plants and increase local poverty. Many mammal and other species, which were found here previously, no longer occur. To be able to give back to this forest by planting native species and assist in the protection of the chimpanzee, golden monkey and mountain monkey populations is vitally important. This is just the start, and we plan to increase our positive impact in the years to come”, concludes Rob.
For more information on the Forest of Hope Guest House and Camp Site, which opened on 1 December 2020, click here.