After successfully recovering parts of Gishwati forest earlier encroached on, the forest is now being designated for tourism.
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is in talks with Great Ape Earth Park Trust of Iowa, an American organisation that oversees the Gishwati Area Conservation Programme, to market Gishwati forest as a tourism attraction.
The forest could fetch between US$ 40,000 to US$ 50,000 annually if the promotional campaign is executed.
Although there is no timeframe for commencement of tourism activities in the forest, the American conservationists are hopeful to begin before the end of the year.
“Once we start, the 100 percent net revenue will be ploughed back into local communities,” said Peter Clay, senior advisor to Gishwati conservation programme.
“Communities around the forest help us in conservation of the forest, that’s why they should be the first beneficiaries and tourism will provide jobs as well as boost their economic livelihood,” Clay added.
The plans were disclosed last week during a conservation competition that attracted 16 schools located around the forest.
The competition aimed at promoting awareness for environment protection within schools and other communities.
At the start, tourists will visit the forest thrice a week to see various species of primates, birds and plants.
Although the number of expected visitors is uncertain,charges for visitors have been set at US$15, US$35 and US$40 for residents, foreign residents and foreigners, respectively.
In 2008, the forest covered 886 hectares of land but today as a result of conservation measures, it sits on 1,484 hectares, a 67 percent increment of the forest cover.
Clay said that with less illegal activities such as poaching and farming, it was imperative to engage communities in sustainable environment protection.