In 2011, Rwanda was the first country in Africa to pledge to restore forest landscape as part of the Bonn Challenge. Later, the country demonstrated its leadership through the highly successful African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100).
Although Rwanda’s commitment to increasing its forest cover to 30% by 2020 was impressively ambitious, the country has surpassed the milestone to 30.4% for its Vision 2020 blueprint.
In an effort to sustain and increase Rwanda’s forests cover and their protection, Rwanda Forestry Authority (RFA) in collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), districts of Kirehe and Nyagatare through AREECA (Alliance for Restoration of Forest Landscapes and Ecosystems in Africa) project has planted 1500 agroforestry tree species and distributed improved cooking stoves to 500 families in need.
This activity is one of many planned by the Rwanda Forestry Authority and its partners for the joint week of celebration of International Day of Forests, World Water Day and World Meteorological Day, which run from March 21st March to 26th March 2022.
In his remarks, the acting Director General of Rwanda Forestry Authority, Spridio Nshimiyimana, stated that this activity of distributing improved cooking stoves aims to help citizens understand their role in protecting forests and in sustainable use of forest goods by using improved/energy saving cooking stoves as one of the methods of reducing deforestation rates.
“We are now experiencing effects of climate change because people did not pay much attention to the forests. To avoid and reduce these consequences, everyone must understand his or her role in protecting forests, which, as we all know, are vital to our daily lives. Today, we distributed these improved cooking stoves to emphasize the importance of using other alternatives in cooking to save forests.” said Spridio Nshimiyimana
As part of awareness, local communities jointly with districts and implementing partners participated in Umuganda which resulted in planting 1500 of agroforestry trees on farmlands in Kirehe district.
Speaking at the distribution of improved cook stoves, Kirehe District Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development, Mr. NZIRABATINYA Modeste thanked AREECA Project and all partners for having thought about the people of Kirehe and he urges the beneficiaries to take care all the stoves they are given as well as all trees they planted.
“We are very happy to see our district becoming covered with trees at large scale. This means that very soon we are going to have enough rain, increased agricultural productivity, good air, and far from desertification. These stoves we are given will reduce completely deforestation rate but also boost the way we spend time during cooking, searching woods and pressuring our forests”, said Mr Modeste.
“Through tree-based restoration and improved land use management, the project is reducing Green Gas emissions. Improved ecosystems are expected to build resilience for adaptation to climate change. The project has already started creating green jobs for households in Kirehe and Nyagatare. This translates to a massive livelihood transformation in the two districts and indeed in the country”, Said Charles KARANGWA, IUCN Rwanda Country Representative and IUCN Head Land Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Through a local community mobiliser called RWARRI, the communities are being engaged in capacity building and awareness raised messages that inform the entire community on the advantages of planting, growing and protecting trees. As a response to these efforts, the community members conduct several Umuganda to plant, protect and weed agroforestry trees including the indigenous species on the farms and roadsides.
Jeannette MUSENGIMANA one of the beneficiaries of AREECA project has thanked Government of Rwanda for bringing to them the new alternative for cooking promising to keep all stoves safe for long-term use.
The AREECA project is on course to restore the ecological functionality and biological productivity of the landscapes of the districts of Kirehe and Nyagatare to enhance its ability to adequately meet multiple objectives including biodiversity conservation, climate change resilience and better livelihoods.
The 4 years’ project is funded by the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
A total of 25000 ha is being brought under restoration through the direct implementation of restoration measures in Nyagatare and Kirehe districts. This is being implemented in partnership with Rwanda Forestry Authority, IUCN, RWARRI, districts and local communities through an integrated landscape community approach.