Rwanda conservation breaking news – Kwita Izina Conservation Conference concludes


At the conclusion of the annual Kwita Izina Conservation Conference yesterday evening at the Kigali Serena Conference Centre did participants and stakeholders from Rwanda, other East African Community member states but also from as far as Israel and South Africa agree on a series of recommendations which were approved by the forum and have been sent to the Rwandan government for inclusion in their already impressive fight against deforestation and degradation.

Discussion papers were submitted at the meeting by Dr. Tamar Ron, who introduced the success story of her work at the Maiombe Forest in Cabinda / Angola while Dr. Juan Carlos Bonilla highlighted the challenges of successful forest management options incorporating local communities as both beneficiaries as well as guardians of forests. Prof. Jean Nduwamungu of the National University of Rwanda, the first presenter in the morning, spoke in detail about the role of communities and their ‘stewardship’ in sustainable forest conservation and forest management, with the audience broadly agreeing that all forests should contribute to neighbouring communities and the country at large but in a sustainable format benefitting in particular traditional forest dwellers and those living near forests.

The following catalogue of findings from three working groups constituted during the conference interactive sessions, was submitted to government through the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, the Hon. Stanislas Kamanzi, who had earlier in the day opened the conference:

Group 1

  • Promote agroforestry technology throughout the country
  • To assign true economic value of tree resources
  • Increase public awareness on the benefit raised from revenue sharing from adjacent forest or national parks
  • Having alternative o similar conservation events as the Kwita izina ceremony in other protected areas
  • Encouraging local community in tree planting and tree conservation
  • Having buffer zone around all protected areas  and assisting  communities around these areas to plant trees

Group 2

  • Define forest in the context of Rwanda (0.03ha)
  • Classify forest according to steward/ownship from community
  • Tenure jurisdiction of the buffer Zone and purpose clarify, rights for local communities
  • Regulation to harvest what in which manner (buffer zone of NNP) so that it responds for the need of both ( harmonize the needs)
  • Triangular  management of the buffer zone : conservation-Nationa forest and community
  • Good understanding of local community for non-timber forest product

Group 3

  • Categorization of stakeholder: local communities, local authorities, religious leaders, schools, private sector, donors, security organs, foresters, land owners
  • Sustainable forest management: use of non-timber  forest resources,  Control of commercial users, Alternative energy sources (biogas, saving stoves), Income generating project, engagement of local communities in decision making for management of forest resources, Alternative protein sources, Transboundary cooperation, Improved methods of farming (mechanization
  • Benefits sharing: payment for environmental services, revenue sharing from tourism or forest, access to local and regional market, ownership over the resources and rights over the resources use, bi-product of tourism, bi-product and additional benefits from alternative energy sources, employment.
  • Impact for conservation through benefit sharing for stakeholder for sustainable forest management
  • Interlinking conservation and education system

Participants, especially those who came to attend from other EAC member countries expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the conference and were making arrangements to submit the conference recommendations to their own governments in Nairobi, Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Bujumbura with several of them also proposing to send a comprehensive report to the East African Community headquarters in Arusha to implement findings on a region wide basis.

Kwita Izina week now ‘moves’ upcountry to launch community based projects financed by tourism receipts before culminating on Friday and Saturday with a traditional community celebration festival in Musanze and the actual naming of the newly born mountain gorilla babies on Saturday at the headquarters of the Volcano National Park.

Watch this space.