The government and Great Ape Trust of Iowa, US, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the sustainable management of the Gishwati natural forest reserve, the Minister for Lands and Environment, Stanislas Kamanzi, said yesterday
He told The New Times in an interview that the choice to work with the Great Ape Trust was a result of the Trust’s support of the government’s efforts to rehabilitate and conserve the forest.
“The Trust was forthcoming in supporting the government’s efforts in the rehabilitation and the conservation of the 600-hectare natural forest patch that had remained after the deforestation in the aftermath of the Genocide and subsequent insurgency that plagued that area,” he said
To date, the government has expanded the natural forest to 1,400 hectares to create a National Conservation Park. Gishwati forest is also home to 15 endangered chimpanzees.
Kamanzi said that Great Ape Trust’s experience in conservation was welcomed in the endeavour to nurture the rich biodiversity harboured in that forest and establish a corridor linking Gishwati and Nyungwe to create a wider reproduction environment for the small chimpanzee family.
According to the MoU, both parties will work towards linking the isolated Gishwati chimpanzees to the much larger population in Nyungwe National Park.
“The TRUST/GACP is responsible for designing a plan for forest expansion and management of the chimpanzee population, including the establishment of a forest corridor to Nyungwe National Park, and agrees to present the first draft of that plan by March 2011,” the MoU reads in part.
Great Ape Trust has pledged at least US$1 million to the project.