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SUSTAINABLE NATURAL RESOURCES UTILISATION IN ECHUYA FOREST

HOW BATWA ARE LEADING BAMBOO CONSERVATION EFFORTS

Since time immemorial, the Batwa, one of the unique indigenous African tribes have lived in the tropical forests of the east and central Africa. In Echuya forest, the Batwa had lived in perfect coexistence with the beautiful natural flora and fauna, to which they owed their entire livelihood. They depended on wild game for meat, and wild fruits for food. As the masters of the forest they even exported forest products such as firewood timber and bamboo to the neighbouring Bakiga and Bafumbira communities in exchange for money and other glossaries the forest could not provide.

Unfortunately though, the Batwa, at first did not realize the hazard they were creating. For example, the bamboos became scarce and scarce and they discovered they had to dig deeper and deeper into the forest get the much prized bamboos. There was acute knowledge gap on bamboo restoration and sustainable bamboo harvesting.

With CORB project the Batwa communities have been dully sensitized on sustainable bamboo harvesting. KIWOCED-U staff have mentored the communities on the need to replenish the depleting bamboo sources. There is a positive outlook among the Batwa on the need to preserve the bamboo forests, thanks to the project. Batwa communities around Echuya are intensely engaged in bamboo planting and restoration. They have formed self-help committees to oversee and protect the growth of the newly planted bamboos. Periodic community meetings are held under the auspices of KIWOCED-U through which ideas are shared on project activity implementation

The Batwa have come to rethink on how to sustainably live and coexist with their endangered environment. It is indeed inspiring that the Batwa are taking a lead in conserving the Echuya ecosystem.

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