Specific objectives of this program are to:
- Create a National Conservation Park in the Gishwati National Forest, defined as conservation of biodiversity (in this case principally of chimpanzees), in an extensively degraded landscape, densely populated with low-income small-scale agriculturalists.
- Restore ecosystem services in the form of improved water quality; reduced soil erosion and flooding; fewer landslides; and increased sequestration of carbon.
- Restore natural biodiversity, with special emphasis on chimpanzees as a keystone and flagship species.
- Generate income through ecotourism, investment opportunity, and local employment.
President Kagame will set aside an extraordinary amount of tropical forest in Rwanda - in perpetuity - as the 'Rwanda National Conservation Park.' Ted Townsend, through his charities Earthpark and the Great Ape Trust, will establish a field station in this park to advance international scientific research, promote reforestation, and help protect great apes.
Earthpark, conceived and founded by Ted Townsend, is an enclosed rainforest park being built to educate people about the natural world. Construction on the 240-acre green campus, situated in the center of the North American Continent, will be completed in 2010. The Great Ape Trust, also founded by Townsend, is a research center dedicated to studying the behavior and intelligence and advancing the conservation of great apes.
Seeking $20,000,000 to support socially just and effective reforestation of 12,000 acres of pasture and farmland to provide ecosystem services and restore biodiversity in the headwaters of the Nile River.
The Gishwati Forest of Hope Association, founded in 2012 with support by Great Ape Trust/Earthpark, seeks grants for continued forest protection and public environmental education. The association would be pleased to share best practice information, biological inventories, corridor planning ideas, and scientific methodologies for calculating the amount of carbon sequestered in a small African rainforest.
The association and Great Ape Trust/Earthpark would greatly appreciate interventions and advice to incentivize the Rwandan government to fulfill its commitment to protect the Gishwati Forest.