Government efforts to reclaim Gishwati forest from massive deforestation will be boosted by two US conservation groups; Great Ape Trust and Earthpark.
Gishwati was initially the second-largest indigenous forest in Rwanda covering 100,000 hectares but last year, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released satellite imagery indicating that nearly 99.4 percent of the forest has been completely wiped out.
Great Ape Trust and Earthpark are backing a program that will this year begin adding 21 percent to the forest which has been severely depleted.
The Gishwati Area Conservation Program will hire a contractor to begin massive tree-planting in the Kinyenkanda area, in the northern point reach of what will become a 31-mile forest corridor through western Rwanda.
Human encroachment, cattle ranching, charcoal burning and crop farming have been the main cause of the forest’s demise, and especially the very destructive floods in 2008.
In June, last year, a high-level meeting held at the Ministry of Local government (Minaloc) requested the special working group on Gishwati forest to plan such that activities to solve the forest’s current predicament are hastened.
Since 2005, government has been trying to reclaim some parts of the forest and resettling the local population is part of Government’s plan in an effort to restore the devastated forest.
The forest is home to 14 endangered chimpanzees along with rare plant species.