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Rwanda: Loss of Trees, Loss of Life

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[♪Jazzy music playing♪] One of the few good stories to come out of Rwwanda in the 1990s was about local conservationists saving the habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla. This helped fuel the economy by bringing tourism and much-needed dollars to the impoverished region. Unfortunately, the experience of another Rwandan forest is far more representative of what happens to the environment during war. After the 1994 genocide, refugees moved into the Gishwati forest reserve looking for a safe place to live and farm. Within in a few years almost the entire forest had been chopped down. Today we go to Rwanda to look at how conservation, or lack thereof, can impact a region's chances for post-war prosperity. "Loss of Trees, Loss of Life" Reported by: Stephanie Hanes Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting [In Bantu, translated] Gishwati was large with many trees, animals, birds. When the refugees arrived from Congo, the refugees began cutting of the forest -- almost all the trees. The animals were finished, and the birds also. Antoine Rubangura, Local resident And there was also the erosion -- you saw the erosion. This followed the cutting of the forest. Now, you have people who come to the forest to look for wood there. Like this, they destroy the forest. Nylratrabimana Venia, Local resident We used to plant green beans here, and they would flourish and there was a lush forest, when I lived here it came up to this level the forest reached beyond this direction We would plant and harvest in abundance, and now the soil is dead. and now we have to make due, we have nothing left. If you look at the countries around here despite good will on political levels, I think the needs in these countries are very huge. Eugene Rutagarama, Program Manager, International Gorilla Conservation Program So, when you look at the government budget, what you get on environment It's very low. Not because they don't want, but if you have to look after the windows if you have to look after those things, really. Sometimes, I understand the government. It is difficult to get sufficient funding to conserve those natural resources. [In Bartu, translated] The soil--it's not like it was. People here are so many, so they farm in the same place every season, every season. Gad Tageri, Chairman of Arusha Village, Gishwati Forest That's why the soil is still not the way it was. Since we arrived here, the amount we are harvesting is down. It's reduced. I'd say by 40 percent. We are like in a desert. There are some trees you see. Those are to protect the crops We need more trees, to plant alongside the road. [♪Jazzy music playing♪] WITH FAREED ZAKARIA RECONCILIATION Up to 1 million people were killed in Rwanda from April to July 1994 Source: Reuters A UN tribunal has convicted 23 suspected in the genocide Thousands more are being prosecuted by traditional Rwandan village courts WITH FAREED ZAKARIA Videographer: Jeffrey Barbee Reporter: Stephanie Hanes Produced by: The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Azimuth Media www.pulitzercenter.org

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 14 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Azimuth Media
Director: Jeffrey Barbee
Views: 140
Posted by: pulitzercenter on Apr 25, 2008

As featured on Foreign Exchange. One of the few good stories to come out of Rwanda in the 1990s was about local conservationists saving the habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla.
This helped fuel the economy by bringing tourism and much-needed dollars to the impoverished region.
Unfortunately the experience of another Rwandan forest is far more representative of what happens to the environment during a war.
After the 1994 genocide, refugees moved into the Gishwati forest reserve
looking for a safe place to live and farm.
Within in a few years almost the entire forest had been chopped down. Today we go to Rwanda to look at how conservation, or lack thereof, can impact a region's chances for post-war prosperity. For more information, visit www.pulitzercenter.org/showproject.cfm?id=16.

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