Tanya Smith, Piet-Louis Grundling, Anton Linstrom and Kerryn Morrison
International Crane Foundation – Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership, Centre for Wetland Research and Training (WETREST), Wet-Earth Eco Specs


The economic and biodiversity assets (including Grey Crowned Crane and Grauer’s Rush warbler) of Rugezi Marsh to the people of Rwanda have boundless potential. This presentation will highlight the value of this peatland and the efforts being undertaken by government and stakeholders to conserve and improve its ecological status. The Rugezi Marsh is a peatland located in an inundated valley surrounded by quartzite ridges, in the north of Rwanda at an altitude of about 2 050 m and covers an area of 6 735 ha. In September 2012, a team of South African and Rwandan conservationists and wetland scientists conducted baseline studies to determine the carbon storage capacity, biodiversity value and ecological status of Rugezi Marsh. The total inferred carbon content for the Rugezi peatland is significantly higher than the carbon amount reported by IMCG (International Mire Conservation Group) in 2004. It is likely given the morphology of the peat basin that the thickness could be 50 to 100% more than sampled and the carbon content could be much higher as it is expected that the carbon content will increase with depth as the humification increases with depth as well. The ecological status of Rugezi ranged from low in northern upper regions to high in the south due to variations in intensity of impacts and modifications by people. However, the ecosystem services assessment only showed high to very high scores for both natural and human services, highlighting the economic value of the peatland. In addition to the initial field assessments the International Crane Foundation – Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership and in-country partners have been implementing innovative approaches to adding value to the conservation of Rugezi Marsh, through alternative livelihood initiatives, including bee keeping, sheep farming and social upliftment projects.The long term successes of these initiatives and others still remain to be seen.What is inarguable, however, is that Rugezi Marsh is critical for both the people of Rwanda and its biodiversity.


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Email Tanya Smith