NYUNGWE - Seventeen people meant to train other trainees in ecotourism planning and wetland management at community level have commenced a course related to the functions and values of wetlands.
The one-month training was officially launched on Monday by officials of Rwanda Development Board (RDB)’s Tourism and Conservation department at the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management (KCCEM).
It is part of the Integrated Management of Critical Ecosystem project that is aimed at helping government to ensure a sustainable management of marshland and associated ecosystem.
The participants were drawn from watershed management committees from the districts of Burera, Gicumbi and Nyamasheke-which are home to two important marshlands; Kamiranzovu in Nyamasheke and Rugezi in Burera and Gicumbi.
Poor management of the Rugezi marshland in the past affected water levels of this wetland which in turn affected hydro-electric power generation within the area.
During the course, the participants will be trained by experts on the functions and values of wetlands for proper designing, planning and management of ecotourism at the community levels.
Fidele Ruzingandekwe, an official from the RDB observed that environmental protection is critical for the country’s development.
He also said that trained marshland management committees will serve as a big boost to protection efforts of critical ecosystems like the Rugezi and Kamiranzovu marshlands.
According to a recent inventory done by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) 860 marshlands were recorded in the country covering a total surface area of 278,536ha --which is 10.6 percent of the country’s total surface area.
Many of the marshlands are threatened by high population density.
Ruzingandekwe explained that through the course participants will be helped to develop ecotourism opportunities to enhance the livelihoods of local people while conserving the natural and cultural heritage.
“This training will equip you with skills which you will be able to use to directly benefit from tourism activities in your surrounding communities,” he told the trainees.
According to Godfrey Muligo, an official from REMA, five watchtowers will be built around the Rugezi marshland while three will be built around Kamiranzovu to ensure sustainable conservation of such areas.