The Ibanda-Makera natural Forest in Kirehe District, Eastern Province, is about to be transformed into a Park that will be visited by tourists once its rehabilitation and conservation activities are completed.
The eastern part of Rwanda is known for its high sun, Kirehe District being one of the most drought-prone areas, which is why Ibanda-Makera forest located in Mpanga Sector is being rehabilitated as one of the ways to deal with climate change in the region.
The Ibanda-Makera forest, which now covers an area of 169 hectares, has been destroyed by locals seeking firewood, charcoal and building trees, with some animals fleeing and others being killed.
Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in collaboration with the Kirehe District and Rwanda Forestry Authority has decided to start conservation activities to prevent permanent erosion, according to Mugabo Fabrice, NAP Project Sector Specialist within REMA.
“It came to our notice that the Ibanda-Makera forest is gradually losing its original size and that once we don’t protect it, it will totally disappear. Through NAP (National Adaptation Planning process) the activities to be conducted include fencing, the re-planting of natural trees to restore its originality.” He explains.
“The people who were farming around it will be supported to get another livelihood that prevents them from re-entering the forest. We will help them plant fruit trees in their fields and other activities that promote them such as beekeeping and other activities that they will choose, since this is a difficult agricultural area.” He adds.
The $ 400,000 Ibanda-Makera Forest Rehabilitation Project is four-year long. At least 74 hectares need to be restored.
“There are talks between REMA and RDB and some work has been started to see how after proper restoration it will be handed to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and turned into a tourism destination”, Mugabo said.
Local residents in Nasho Cell, Mpanga Sector say they have been encouraged to conserve it because they know its value.
“From the past, this forest was useful; it had many animals that are no longer there. Restoring will help us in the beekeeping projects in which we are engaged. We are committed to protect it from any damage because we know its value”, Rugina Ananias said.
Ibanda-Makera forest was said to be a home to several types of wild animals like lions, monkeys, snakes, chimpanzees, wild pigs, antelopes, leopards and birds. Some are no longer found there. It is made up of savanna trees and bushes, swamps and gigantic trees. There were at least 124 tree varieties.
By Kanamugire Emmanuel423