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Gishwati-Mukura Landscape officially approved as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

 

Rwanda’s Mukura-Gishwati natural Forests has been officially approved as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, TOPAFRICANEWS reports.

The approval was welcomed by Rwandan authorities after this relatively young national park located in the Albertine Rift, a global biodiversity hotspot got the United Nations’ approval.

Gishwati-Mukura Landscape covers the total area of 79,926 and comprises a core area of 3,558 ha, a buffer zone of 1,979 ha and a transition area of 74389 ha.

Juliet Kabera, Director General, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020, after getting the good news twitted “Rwanda’s Gishwati-Mukura Landscape has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Congratulations to all partners involved in this historic achievement including: the Global Environment Facility and World Bank! This will bring a range of benefits for local communities and biodiversity in Gishwati Mukura National Park”

The Gishwati Mukura Forest is recognized for two primate species, which are endangered and endemic to the Albertine Rift among them are: The Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthi) and the Golden monkey (Cercopithecus (mitis) kandti).

Other species in the area include carnivores (e.g. the Side-striped Jackal, Canis adustus), bats and small mammals. Floral species include three species of bryophytes (Porella abyssinica, Leptoscyphus expansus and Cololejeunea parva) occurring exclusively in Gishwati Forest.

With a population of 337,782, local communities’ benefit from the park in terms of increased agricultural productivity through sustainable land management activities, silvopastoralism, agroforestry and tourism, under a benefit-sharing agreement signed with the communities, 10% of revenue generated is used in community development projects.

The UNESCO Advisory Committee commended the authorities for the Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC) project, which has conducted various research and monitoring programmes in the area.

According to the UNESCO document seen by TOP AFRICA NEWS on Wednesday, the Advisory Committee also appreciated the development and implementation of a ten-year master plan and a two-year implementation plan for the landscape. A Gishwati Mukura National Park Management Advisory Committee is currently being established. However, the Committee noted that the Management Advisory Committee should be created for the entire biosphere reserve, not just the national park.

The document also highlighted that the Advisory Committee encouraged the authorities to ensure the establishment of the Management Advisory Committee and the implementation of a participatory management plan.

What are Biosphere ReservesBiosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.

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