WORLD FUTURE COUNCIL HAILS RWANDAS VISIONARY FOREST POLICIES
After handing Rwanda their global Gold Award 2011 last year for the countrys groundbreaking forest policies, the World Future Council has just concluded a three day high powered meeting in Kigali to discuss how Africa can learn from Rwanda and copy successful methods and applications to restore forest cover in their own countries.
A number of parliamentarians, government officials, forestry experts, NGO personnel, conservationists and media representatives came to Kigali to share experience and discuss the challenges Africa faces today in protecting the continents endangered forests, which are threatened by growing global hunger for resources such as tropical hard wood but also by local population explosions which causes a rocketing demand for fire wood and charcoal.
Rwandas approach has embraced the need for sustainability in the use of forests, accepting that they are crucial water towers but also responded to the need of populations to escape poverty, and tourism in Rwanda is seen as a key factor to spread wealth into local communities by involving them in a range of economic activities centered around tourism activities as well as for instance honey farming.
It is Rwandas declared goal to restore 30 percent of the country to forest cover by the year 2020 and progress in recent years has been impressive, especially in areas around Gishwati Forest which was heavily encroached and in sections degraded when the new forest policy came into effect. Gishwati in fact, over the past 5 years, has seen a significant portion of the previously encroached sections replanted and efforts are underway to restore the entire forest corridor between Gishwati and Nyungwe to, besides many other benefits, also let the primate population in both forests once again migrate as was the case in the past.
Nyungwe Forest, a national park for several years now, has been catapulted into prominence as a tourism resource and Gishwati too is expected to be turned into a national park soon, adding further attractions to the countrys existing safari options and to have more areas of the country benefit from the flow of tourist visitors beyond just visiting the fabled mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park.
Rwanda has become the undeclared champion of forests in East Africa and is regularly cited as a prime example how forest restoration and protection can in fact go hand in hand with fighting poverty and giving economic opportunities to growing populations. Well done Rwanda another feather in the hat right at the time of the Golden Jubilee.