Overlooking residential homes in Nasho Cell, Mpanga Sector in Kirehe District is Ibanda-Makera-a 169-hectare natural forest-which is home to several types of wild animals. It also constitutes of a marshland connected to River Akagera.
Since the early 2000s, the little known forest, said to be made up of at least 124 tree varieties, has been undergoing restoration and preservation. In two decades, it had been severely degraded, losing 80 per cent of its original size.
Ibanda-Makera forest is made of savanna trees and bushes, swamps and gigantic trees through which Makera stream flows.
And with animal species like monkeys, snakes, chimpanzees, wild pigs, antelopes, leopards and birds the area is said to the potential to transform surrounding communities through tourism revenues.
“I know the forest; it is a short distance from my home. Many animals in there,” says Francois Mbabariye, a resident of Nasho Cell.
“It is one of the tourism potentials of Kirehe District… what we have started doing is bringing it back to its standard, by preventing exploitation, fencing it, adding more acacia trees, nile tulip and ficus trees,” said Octavien Ngirabakunzi, an Environment Officer at Kirehe District.