Gishwati National Park – Two years and counting …


(Posted 25th September 2017)

When the law making the Gishwati – Mukura forest system a national park, was assented to and gazetted on 01st of February 2016, was much applause heard about Rwanda’s commitment to preserve, protect and in fact expand some of their remaining forest areas in the country.
Expectations to turn the park, the fourth national park in Rwanda, into a tourism attraction and begin to generate income, however got a damper since then as lack of physical infrastructure is not allowing tourists to access the park, unlike distant neighbour Nyungwe Forest National Park, which is fully integrated into the tourism circuit across Rwanda.
Attempts to get up to date information have not yielded much results though it was established that work on a management plan and a tourism master plan is ongoing, again with no confirmation how far the process has gone.
Usually well informed sources from Kigali, as usual under condition of strict anonymity, have also suggested that forest rehabilitation and extensive tree planting has been carried out over the past at least 1 1/2 years, in order to link Gishwati and Mukura, bridge deforested patches and give in particular the chimpanzees found in Gishwati a wider range, perhaps able to link to other populations.
Over 650 hectares of forest are due to be re-forested while surrounding buffer zones of another 500 hectares are due to be planted with more trees or tee estates to make productive yet environmentally sensitive use of the land. Over a dozen indigenous trees are due to be re-introduced to the forest to to widen biodiversity across the forest ecosystem.
Tourism sources expressed their hope that sooner rather than later the required infrastructure like a park gate with an information centre and marked trails across the forest – similar to Nyungwe – will be introduced so that Rwanda’s fourth national park can move from being a park on paper to being a park visited by tourists. That however will cost money and that needs to be either found, or if sourced already be spent in an accelerated forward motion aimed to make Gishwati – Mukura accessible for visitors.

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