Dec 05, 2011

Batwa: Action Taken To Protect Gorillas

A UN study shows the gorillas in Rwanda are affected by ecosystems damaged through climate change. The Batwa have taken action by planting trees.

Below is an article published by 3News:

Gorillas are lazing in the sun in the lush mountains of Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. They might seem relaxed, but as the climate is heating up these great apes are finding it more difficult to find food.

Climate change is pushing the vegetation these gorillas prefer further up the mountains, where temperatures are cooler.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned over the weekend [3-4 December 2011] that Rwanda's gorillas are just one example of how ecosystems are being affected around the world by climate change.

A new study by the UN body, released during climate talks in Durban, warns that up to a third of all animal and plant species worldwide are at the risk of extinction due to climate change.

"With this study, we wanted to focus on the wildlife, showing where the first symptoms show that we are having problems (and) where we are most likely have much bigger (problems) in the future," head of the FAO's forestry department, Eduardo Rojas, said after an address for the International Forest Day. "They are normally related - the most critical cases - to mountains and to coastal lowlands where the effects are very evident even today."

Rwanda is Africa's most densely populated country. Most people are subsistence farmers, who compete with wildlife for land and resources. Erosion and deforestation is widespread, putting the population and wildlife at further risk to climate change.

The FAO report stresses that only healthy ecosystems may be able to withstand and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Batwa community, living on the outskirts of the Volcanoes National Park, has already started taking action.

A tree planting campaign has seen a quarter of a million seedlings sown over the last four years. The trees help shelter crops and stop erosion as well as acting as a carbon sink to help combat climate change.

Firewood will also be provided by the new forests, helping protect the habitat of the community's neighbouring gorillas.