The Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, yesterday hailed the Reserve Force and the community surrounding Gishwati forest for their efforts in protecting the forest during the launch of the forest’s reforestation campaign.
Two years ago, the government relocated to Kyanzarwe Sector in Rubavu, over 400 families who had encroached Gishwati forest in Nyabihu and Rubavu districts in an effort to protect the forest.
Kamanzi said that due to the cooperation of the residents and the government exercise to sensitise the locals to own the restoration process of the forest, the efforts have been a success.
With no more encroachment of the forest for the last two years, the government embarked on the restoration of over 3,000 hectares by planting trees on parts that were left bare through human activities such as cultivation and grazing.
“Conservation of natural forests and other vegetation is a government priority and working with the reserve forces, we have so far succeeded with Gishwati,” said Kamanzi.
He added that by November next year, the restoration exercise would be complete and hopefully, tourism activities will be promoted around the forest.
Kamanzi, who accompanied by James Kabarebe, the Minister of Defence, also visited Rubavu hill, where over 1,800 families who were expropriated last year to protect them from landslides, were settled.
Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) budgeted over Rwf 150 million for the protection and conservation of Rubavu hill for a period of six months.
Trees of various species such as bamboo will be planted on a surface area of 62 hectares.
The six-month project will see a 10 km road constructed and 15 hectares of grass planted.
“The hill will be turned into a recreation centre that will provide tourists with a resting place to enjoy the scenery of Rubavu town,” said Celestin Kabahizi, the Governor of the Western Province.
Latifa Mukarukundo, a former resident on the hill and now employed with the company constructing the recreation centre, appreciates the government’s move to relocate them.
“We now live in a safe place and have jobs,” Mukarukundo said.