Kibira National Park in Burundi
The Kibira National Park is a national park in northwestern Burundi. Overlapping four provinces and covering 400 km². Kibira National Park lies atop the mountains of the Congo-Nile divide. It extends north from the provincial town of Muramvya to the border of Rwanda where it is contiguous with the Nyungwe National Park. It is estimated that around 16% of the park consists of primary montane rainforest, and is adjacent to two large tea plantations, one in Teza and the other in Rwegura. Dominant tree species include Symphonia globulifera, Newtonia buchananii, Albizia gummifera and Entandrophragma excelsum.
The forest contains areas of montane bog and bamboo stands. The Kibira is home to a number of primate species, including chimpanzees and black and white colobus monkeys, and boasts over 250 species of birds, including the majestic Great Blue Turaco. The park is managed by the Institut National pour l'Environnement et la Conservation de la Nature (INECN).
Until 1933, this forest was a hunting reserve of the Kings of Burundi.
The local people respected the forest, investing it with a magical power. Rights of use for livestock grazing and the gathering of forest products were recognized. The sacred character of the forest, even prior to the colonial era, helped to conserve it. Between 1933 and 1980 Kibira was classified as the Congo-Nile Ridge Forest Reserve, first under Belgian rule, then after Burundian Independence in July 1962.
Only the extraction of high-value timber was regulated and controlled. Between Independence and 1980, the right to allocate new land for cultivation within the defined boundary was abolished, although grazing rights were retained. Despite its status as a National Park, there is much pressure on parts of the forest as a result of felling of trees and cutting of bamboo, fire and poaching, and encroaching subsistence agriculture.