The Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR) has embarked on a drive to plant tree species that are bordering on extinction in a bid to preserve natural history and boost cultural tourism.
Over 300 traditional bird-friendly and medicinal trees in seven species were, last Friday, planted at the ethnographic museum in Huye District.
The species, which were acquired from Nyungwe National Park, include Macaranga Kilimandscharica (Umusekera), Sygygium Guinense (Umugote), Harungana Madagascariensis (Umushabishabi), Hagenia Abyssinica (Umugeti), Neoctonia Macrocalis (Umwanya) and Urutobwe And Umukipfu.
Speaking during the activity, the director-general of INMR, Alphonse Umulisa, said the move is also in line with promoting biodiversity to boost cultural tourism.
He said there are plans to venture into coffee business at the museum so that people who visit it, especially foreign tourists can, as they rest in the beautiful forest, enjoy a cup of Rwandan coffee “while watching the lovely, attention-grabbing birds, which have proven to be important for the tourism sector.”
“The more a client or visitor stays here, the more they buy beverages and foods, which is an avenue for job creation,” he said, adding that by 2020, these museums should have started to break-even and sustain themselves.
Umulisa said that the 20 hectares on which the ethnographic museum sits also has a forest made up of eucalyptus trees.
He said the move will also serve as a marketing tool for Rwanda.
On the importance of the planted species, for instance, ‘umukipfu’ tree produces flowers five years after planting and continues to yield for several years thereafter. It is normally known to attract bees for honey, he said.
The tree has also been accredited to provide herbs that help women during labour, according to Oscar Umwanzisiwemuremyi, the acting manager of the Natural History Museum located in Nyarugenge District’s Gitega Sector.
Francine Uwimbabazi, a guide at the Museum of Environment located in Karongi District, said that there are people who like to learn about how traditional medicine worked before the onset of modern medicine.
“They have actually advised us that we bring traditional healers so that they show them how they blend the herbs to produce medicine,” she said.
Uwimbabazi said the introduction of medicinal trees at the ethnographic museum is helpful as the move will help people get knowledge about such trees.
Currently, tourism is the country’s top income earner, and the sub-sector brought into the economy about $304.9 million (about Rwf223 billion) last year.