Rwanda Forests : Rwanda is a tiny beautiful country found in the East African region of the continent. Though small in size, the country is recognized as one of the best tourism destinations in Africa. One of the key reasons for this success is credited to its possession of the mountain gorillas that roam in the Volcanoes national park. Mountain gorillas dwell in the tropical rainforests of Virunga region.

Although the tropical rainforests receive more attention because of harboring the gorillas, there are several different forests spread across Rwanda and play a big role in the country’s biodiversity and amazing climate.

Rwanda’s forest cover.

Rwandan forests can be grouped into four types; the biological forests of Congo Nile Ridge composed of Nyungwe, Mukura and Gishwati forests. The natural forests, found near Volcanoes national park, Akagera national park, and finally the surviving sections of savannah forests in Gisaka, Umutara, and Bugesera areas. A portion of Rwanda is also covered by artificial forests mainly composed of exotic tree species like Eucalyptus, Grevillea and Pines.

Research done by the Forest department shows that the country was approximately covered by 659,000ha of forest in 1960.  However, the most recent research indicates loss of almost 64% forest cover from 1960 to date. This loss is estimated at over 1.3% per year. The rapid growth in population is leading to more pressure on protected forests as evidenced by increased deforestation and encroachment on natural forests in Rwanda.

nyungwe forest

Rwanda has 3 forests that are famous and contribute greatly to its tourism industry’s success. These include Nyungwe where chimpanzee trekking is done, the rainforests of Volcanoes national park and the Gishwati – mukura forest reserve. The Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda’s flagship in tourism. This is because the park’s forests harbor the famous mountain gorillas which are among the leading tourism attractions in the world. This has left mountain gorilla adventures as one of Rwanda’s biggest foreign exchange-earners.

Tourism.

Forests of Rwanda are greatly blessed with rich biodiversity with almost all of them having significant tourist exciting attractions. For example, Nyungwe forest has chimpanzees, Volcanoes rainforests safeguard the critically endangered mountain gorillas in addition to several other animals like forest elephants and Buffaloes, antelopes, giant forest hogs among others.

Rwanda’s forests are also becoming a major point of interest as they are home to several Albertine rift bird endemics. This is making the country a fast and notable birding destination in the region. The endemic Albertine rift bird species include the Rwenzori batis, collared Apalis, Rwenzori turacos Archer’s, ground robin, red-throated leather, Kivu ground thrush, mountain masked Apalis, stripe-breasted tit, dusky crimson-wing, Shelley’s Crimson wing, red-faced woodland warbler, Rwenzori double-collared sunbird, blue-headed sunbird, strange weaver, regal sunbird, handsome spurfowl among others.

Threats to Rwanda forests.

Encroachment and human activities.

The primary threat to Rwanda’s forests is encroachment by people and their activities. These activities range from illegal logging, farming on forest land, bushfires and charcoal production. Statistics from a 2007 survey conducted by the national forest inventory identified that illegal logging contributes 78.3%, charcoal production 4.9%, livestock grazing 2.5 %, and farming activities around 1.9% towards forest destruction.

Steps being taken to protect Rwanda’s forests.

Promoting Agroforestry.

Different authorities in Rwanda are promoting the practice of agroforestry as a measure of saving Rwanda’s forests. Efforts are being made to replace deforested areas that were destroyed by illegal logging and charcoal making. Agroforestry schemes have been proven as one of the fastest solutions to restore natural forests of Rwanda.

Preserve small natural forests.

To conserve the surviving forest heritage of Rwanda, the authorities are putting precise methods to locate all endangered natural forests and developing plans to protect them from being destroyed. This includes setting up priority strategies to be enforced like legal and sustainable logging in these forests, banning agricultural activities among others.

Visit Rwanda to find more information about its famous forests like Nyungwe and explore the adventures these national treasures are ready to offer you on your next Rwanda safari.

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