African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) today announced the delivery of 11,400 bamboo plants to Rwanda, as part of an effort to assist the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) – the government authority responsible for protected areas and wildlife in Rwanda – in restoring a native bamboo species.
In 2018, AWF donated land to the Government of Rwanda to expand Volcanoes National Park for the first time in forty years. Missing from the landscape was the The Yushania Alpina species of bamboo, which is difficult to find in-country. AWF and RDB enlisted leading bamboo development company EcoPlanet Bamboo to help cultivate the native seedlings for restoration. EcoPlanet Bamboo worked with local partners in the Aberdare region of Kenya to grow the seedlings for ecological restoration in Rwanda.
RDB Conservation expert said: "Rwanda has demonstrated to the World and Africa that conservation, tourism and development are not mutually exclusive and is leading in holistic conservation and green growth initiatives. Rwanda's national parks arebenefiting communities with one of the highest revenue sharing programs in Africa. To ensure that this vibrant green economy continues to thrive, ecological restoration to improve mountain gorilla habitat is a key."
AWF Senior Vice President Craig Sholley said: "Many people familiar with AWF's work have a limited understanding of what we do to restore landscapes to support our core work of preserving wildlife and supporting local communities. In Rwanda, AWF made a historic land donation, but the work wasn't finished. Successful ecological restoration required a native plant species that was hard to cultivate in-country, so with partners, we found a way to make it happen. We are thrilled to announce that these plants have come home. "
Reforestation is an important tool for soil stabilization to help prevent landslides and erosion. It is also important for reversing biodiversity loss and mitigating climate change. Bamboo is notjust important to the environment in Rwanda; it can also be used commercially to develop employment, capacity and spinoff enterprises. Rwanda's bamboo strategy calls for production and business systems for bamboo products, job creation, and a strong bamboo policy that will promote a sustainable supply chain.
Habitat loss is the number one threat to wildlife in Africa today. As development in Africa continues, agriculture, infrastructure such as pipelines and roads, as well as resource extraction contribute to the destruction of wildlife habitats. These changes in land-use are fragmenting natural habitats and wildlife migration corridors. Not only does this ecological loss impact the long-term survival of wildlife populations, but it also erodes the ecosystem services that will help us mitigate climate change impacts and escalate human-wildlife conflicts. AWF is delighted to be partnering with RDB on expanding habitat protection and ecological restoration.