The Rwandan government, Great Ape Trust of Iowa and Earthpark have announced that the Gishwati Forest Reserve is the future site of the Rwanda National Conservation Park, setting into motion one of Africa’s most ambitious forest restoration and ecological research efforts ever. The selection of Gishwati as the location for Rwanda’s first national conservation park comes less than three months after the project was unveiled at the Clinton Global Initiative by Rwanda President H.E. Paul Kagame and Ted Townsend, founder of Great Ape Trust and Earthpark.
The Gishwati Forest, in Rwanda’s Western Province, was deforested in the 1980s by agricultural development and in the 1990s during the resettlement of people following the civil war and genocide. Human encroachment, deforestation, grazing and the introduction of small-scale farming resulted in extensive soil erosion, flooding, landslides and reduced water quality – as well as the isolation of a small population of chimpanzees.
A team from Great Ape Trust and Earthpark toured the Gishwati region this month, hosted by representatives from the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and Rwanda National Forestry Authority (NAFA).
“This was the first step in what will be a very long but powerful journey. What we’ve learned about Gishwati has given us an even bigger vision of what can be accomplished in Rwanda,” Townsend said. “It’s a signature moment to participate in this conservation effort that is new and beyond anything attempted before.”
In addition to tours of Gishwati, Townsend and Dr. Benjamin Beck, director of conservation at Great Ape Trust, met with President Kagame and Patricia Hajabakiga, Minister of Lands, Environment, Forestry, Water and Mines (MINITERE).
“The significance of this project is twofold – the restoration of forests and biodiversity in Gishwati and the improved livelihood of those people living in the region,” Minister Hajabakiga said. “This is important to Gishwati, important to Rwanda and important to the world. To see the hills of Gishwati covered with forest again will be beautiful.”
Following meetings with MINITERE, REMA, NAFA, the Rwanda office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), the National University of Rwanda, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Great Ape Trust, four goals were established for the Gishwati project:
Create Rwanda National Conservation Park, defined as conservation of biodiversity in an extensively degraded landscape, populated with low-income small-scale agriculturalists.
Restore ecosystem services in the form of improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and flooding, fewer landslides and increased sequestration of carbon.
Restore natural biodiversity with special emphasis on chimpanzees as a keystone and flagship species.
Generate income through ecotourism, investment opportunity and local employment.
“Poverty is a threat to conservation, so we must simultaneously protect and study the Gishwati chimpanzees, expand their forest habitat, and foster the economic development of the local human population,” Beck said. “Great Ape Trust will be the first international conservation organization to focus on Gishwati. This is a formidable but exciting challenge. We and our Rwandan partners are developing some innovative and ambitious solutions that will make this a model. President Kagame’s inspiring recognition of the importance of biodiversity is a driving force for our efforts.”
Once the second-largest indigenous forest in Rwanda, Gishwati extended 1,0002 km (100,000 hectares or 250,000 acres) in the early 1900s. By the late 1980s, Gishwati was about one-fourth its original size. Resettlement by refugees following the 1994 genocide reduced the forest to about 62 km (600 hectares or 1,500 acres). Reforestation efforts during the past several years have increased Gishwati’s forest to approximately 102 km (1,000 hectares or 2,500 acres).
Earthpark will be an icon of ecological literacy and learning to improve the lives of people, species and the environment around the world. This unique learning campus will demonstrate sustainable and restorative solutions to the myriad ecological threats facing humanity, using state-of-the-art educational tools and online communication with schools, communities and government worldwide. Earthpark will include four acres of tropical rainforest, a 600,000-gallon aquarium and more than 1,000 species of plants and small animals in a re-created ecosystem. Situated next to 15,000-acre Lake Red Rock near Pella, Iowa, the campus will have prairies, woodlands, trails and campsites coexisting with research labs, a green hotel, retail space, and a green utility infrastructure powered in part by alternative and renewable energy sources. Earthpark will host the first green building simulator in league with the U.S. Green Building Council.Ted Townsend, founder and president of Townsend Vision, has created three complementary educational and social programs designed to meet the many challenges facing the 21st century. Earthpark, Great Ape Trust of Iowa and the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy resulted from his lifelong interest in conservation, sustainability and restoration. Each program is grounded in science and infuses Townsend’s passion to facilitate respectful collaborations with other cultures.
Al Setka | EurekAlert!
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences