Following eviction of illegal squatters from the Gishwati forest and resettled by the Rwanda government, a year after a number of them have sneaked back into the protected area and resumed illegal logging and cultivations.
The news broke yesterday prompting a reassurance by government that this trend would not be tolerated as re-forestation was an official government policy, carried out at substantial expense, and the forests were a source of water and an asset for forest tourism.
The Rwandan government last year launched a 25 million US Dollar project towards re-forestation, the protection of ‘water towers’ and the long term sustainable use of forests through tourism and limited, carefully considered resource exploitation. Said a regular source from Kigali overnight in response to a question posed: ‘Our government will take strict measures and if necessary prosecute the encroachers. We are spending a lot of money on conservation and re-forestation and a few individuals cannot think they are above the law. They will be evicted again, taken to their initial resettlement site and watched closely from now on to prevent any one of them going back into the forests. We have a duty to protect our water sources’.
The Rwandan government is arguably the most proactive in the East African region when it comes to the protection of the environment and maintaining biodiversity, all done with an eye on generating more jobs, investment and income from tourism.
Compiled by Jackie