Gishwati Mukura National Park is one of the four National Parks found in Rwanda. Rwanda is well known for three National parks that is to say, Volcanoes, Nyungwe Akagera national park Nyungwe national park. In 2015 the law was passed by the Rwandan government to establish a new national park that combines the two forest of Gishwati and Makura forest.
On 1st February 2016, the law was signed to gazette the national park and its boundaries.
Gishwati-mukura national park is afforested area spreading up from the north of the country close to the volcanoes national park downwards combining Gishwati forest that covers an area of 1439.72 hectares and Makura forest that also covers 1987.74 hectares hence making a total surface of 992.48 hectares.
In the far north of Rwanda, Gishwati-mukura forest had a flourishing eco-system that was stretching from the north in the volcanoes national park, following the disastrous genocide event in 1994, large number of people that had left the country flowed back from across the borders and started settling and occupying the land including these forested Ares. These people started to carry out human activities such as animal grazing, tree cutting increased, and illegal mining among other threats. The forests were therefore depleted due large settlement of people in these forests.
In 2007, there came in an American research who stepped in with an aim of preserving small population of less than 29 chimpanzees that had succeeded to live in this shrinking forest. With the support of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) together with Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and conservation (LAFREC)n that have worked so hard to restore and conserve the environmental and economic benefits of these forest.
Some of the activities that have been restored to conserve these forests include rehabilitating natural forest and improving land management in the agricultural lands and also introducing methods of silvo pastoralism in the central Gishwati reserve.
Gishwati-mukura Park is known because of its flora and fauna. This protected area offers an incredible diversity providing corridor for free movement of these primates such as chimpanzees, white and black colobus monkeys, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, L Hoest monkeys and other different species of mammals. The park has also around 60 species of trees that includes hard wood and bamboo.
The upgrading of Gishwati-mukura forest to the position of the national park will greatly contribute to the livelihoods of people living around the park and REMA will ensure that the remaining part of the forest is fully protected as noted by the Director General of REMA.
This is extremely exciting news for Rwanda government and the people of Rwanda, as it shows the willingness of the government to help stabilize and protect the largely useful areas in Rwanda. Therefore people of Rwanda should keep hopeful for few couple of years, the national park will bring the needed resources such as jobs, new developments and more income to ensure continued preservation of the national park.
People around Makura – Gishwati National Park joyful welcome the establishment of the national park in the region as they promise to build good relationship with all visitors.
The Gishwati-Mukura National Park is located in Rubavu, Rutsiro, Ngororero
and Nyabihu Districts of the western part of Rwanda.