Gishwati-Mukura Nature Reserve has officially become Rwanda’s 4th National Park after Akagera, Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Park. This park is known for its fauna and flora such as primates, chimpanzees and more than 60 types of trees.
Gishwati-Mukura National Park is located in Rubavu, Rutsiro, Ngororero and Nyabihu Districts in western Rwanda. Rwanda had only three national parks but the number increased from 3 to 4 parks with the law establishing Gishwati and Mukura National Park which was signed and published in the official gazette on February 01, 2016.
The objective of turning Gishwati-Mukura into a national park is to “ensure that the part of these forests that remains is safeguarded” as explained by Dr Rose Mukankomeje, Director of REMA. Dr. Mukankomeje also asserts that “the new park will contribute to the well-being of the surrounding population as they will find jobs in hotels, guide tourists and sell handicrafts to tourists who visit Gishwati-Mukura Park” .
This law provides that the two parks are composed of the Gishwati forest measuring 1,439.72 hectares and the Mukura forest measuring 1,987.74 hectares. The total area of Gishwati-Mukura Park is 992.48 hectares.
Initially, this nature reserve of Gishwati and Mukura covered 250,000 hectares, reduced to 28,000 hectares in the 1980s. This was due to illegal human activities such as grazing for cattle and deforestation for agriculture.
It is the Rwandan Environmental Management Authority (REMA) that rehabilitated Gishwati and Mukura through its “Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC)” project. This project aims to generate financial and environmental benefits of these two forests.