President of Rwanda Announces Historic Forest Protection Project in Partnership with Earthpark and Great Ape Trust



    Ten-Year Collaboration with Unique Environmental Center and First Global
Research Facility Housing All Four Great Ape Types

    NEW YORK, September 27 /CNW/ - Rwandan President H. E. Paul Kagame today
unveiled his country's first national conservation park to promote
reforestation and conservation, and research to enhance knowledge of the
world's rapidly diminishing number of great apes. In collaboration with Ted
Townsend, founder of Earthpark and Great Ape Trust of Iowa, President Kagame
announced at the Clinton Global Initiative a joint 10-year program called The
Rwanda Forest Protection Project. They will partner to develop both a national
conservation park and field station for reforestation and conservation of
great apes, including mountain gorillas, which currently number around 700
worldwide.

    Under this historic agreement, the government of Rwanda will identify,
dedicate and protect in perpetuity a region of ecologically significant size
to create the Rwanda National Conservation Park. Earthpark, North America's
unique 240-acre environmental center, in partnership with Great Ape Trust,
will establish a field station in this park to research and promote
reforestation and conservation of great apes. Rwanda is home to two types of
great ape - approximately half of the 700 mountain gorillas worldwide and a
small population of eastern chimpanzees numbering approximately 500.

    Resources for the program will be mobilized from carbon trading and other
potential sources in Rwanda. Rwanda has the highest human population density
in Africa with about 10 million people living in a country smaller than the
state of Maryland (and one-fifth the size of Iowa). These factors have caused
acute land and resource scarcity, and resulting pressure on natural habitats.

    "We are immensely appreciative of Mr. Townsend's shared passion and
commitment to preserve and restore our precious forests that have been
destroyed by many factors including deforestation and climate change,"
according to President Kagame. "We also are confident that this first-ever
international project will prevent the extinction of our great apes through
Great Ape Trust's world-renowned scientists."

    "Our partnership with President Kagame and his country represents a
landmark event reinforcing our goal to protect the world's rapidly vanishing
forests and natural resources, including great apes, which are critical in
educating us about our past and our future," said Ted Townsend, founder of
Earthpark and Great Ape Trust of Iowa. "Our 10-year commitment in Rwanda
coincides with our goals for Earthpark - within the first decade of operation
we expect to have 10 million on-site visitors, 100,000 STEM (science,
technology, engineering and math) trained and certified teachers, and up to
one billion people reached globally via the Internet."

    Earthpark will be an icon of ecological literacy and learning to improve
the lives of people, species and the environment around the world. This unique
learning campus will demonstrate sustainable and restorative solutions to the
myriad ecological threats facing humanity, using state-of-the-art educational
tools and online communication with schools, communities and government
worldwide. Earthpark will include four acres of tropical rainforest, a
600,000-gallon aquarium and more than 1,000 species of plants and small
animals in a re-created ecosystem. Situated next to 15,000-acre Lake Red Rock
near Pella, Iowa, the campus will have prairies, woodlands, trails and
campsites coexisting with research labs, a green hotel, retail space, and a
green utility infrastructure powered in part by alternative and renewable
energy sources. Earthpark will host the first green building simulator in
league with the U.S. Green Building Council.

    Great Ape Trust of Iowa is a scientific research facility in Des Moines
dedicated to understanding the origins and future of culture, language, tools
and intelligence. When completed, it will be the largest great ape facility in
North America and one of the first worldwide to include all four types of
great ape - bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans - for noninvasive
interdisciplinary studies of their cognitive and communicative capabilities.
Great Ape Trust is dedicated to providing sanctuary and an honorable life for
great apes, studying the intelligence of great apes, advancing conservation of
great apes and providing a unique educational experience about great apes.

    Ted Townsend, founder and president of Townsend Vision, has created three
complementary educational and social programs designed to meet the many
challenges facing the 21st century. Earthpark, Great Ape Trust of Iowa and the
U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy resulted from his lifelong interest in
conservation, sustainability and restoration. Each program is grounded in
science and infuses Townsend's passion to facilitate respectful collaborations
with other cultures.

    MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE:
http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=5504088




For further information:

For further information: Media Inquiries: Susan Neisloss, 310-926-8202
susan@bigbiteprod.com or Earthpark: David Oman, 515-243-9300
davidoman@earthpark.org or Great Ape Trust: Al Setka, 515-243-3580
asetka@greatapetrust.org

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