The Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, assured people who own land near Gishwati Forest Reserve that they will have it registered under their names as soon as some pending issues are solved.
He was responding to pleas from some of the affected people during a town hall meeting, at the weekend, held to explain issues connected to land registration and leasing charges.
The affected people in Gishwati, Western Province, expressed fears of losing their pieces of land to the reserve or any other party.
One of them, who only identified himself as Andre, said: “Our land in the proximity of the reserve was never demarcated and registered in our names as was the case in the other areas; we want assurance that we will not lose this land that we have owned legally since 1964.”
The minister explained that the government planned to carry out some activities on the land in question, like terracing it, before registering it in the owners’ names.
“Gishwati land, just like other areas which have bad terrain and risked erosion or landslides, was not registered in the first phase because the government wanted to first improve it; this, in fact, is in the interest of these people because the land will be more productive,” said the Minister.
“Some other areas in districts like Burera, Musanze (Northern Province) and in Bugarama (Western Province), too, are under the same plan.”
Kamanzi also noted that, for better results, the owners of the land in question will be guided on how to use the land, on such issues as which types of crops they should grow.