By Annonciata BYUKUSENGE
The villagers say that even though they are old, they understand the importance of the environment conservation, which is why they have decided to plant trees so that they do not live in the desert or face the consequences of not living near trees and providing good air.
A 70-year-old woman called Espérance Iyakaremye says that they have been sensitized to form biodiversity conservation groups and told them about the importance of the environment to the biodiversity network and decided to plant trees so that some of the species could find a place to live.
“I’m an old woman, but I have learned that environmental protection is my responsibility. I have learned that the effects of climate change are due to the absence of trees to breathe fresh air, which in the ageing also has serious side effects such as respiratory illnesses that satisfy us because our body is already weakened by its immunity.”
In addition to breathing fresh air, she says, the trees they plant include tress mixes with plants that provide livestock grass, plant shoots and fruit trees that help them get food to eat and have a healthy life.
Asked where they get the planting trees if they buy them or if there is a donor who donates them, she said: “The Biodiversity Conservation Cooperative is the one that gives us the planting trees, and every citizen wants trees and they give them for free.”
Nzabonitegeka Philomène, is a woman participate on environment conservation and she says that now she is responsible to sensitize the good news of protecting environment to her neighbors.
“Before to participate in conservation groups, I was careless about environment conservation but now I am in good position to explain to others people the benefits of protecting them.” Said Nzabonitegeka.
Philippe Ndikubwimana, is one of the men in the conservation cooperative. He says that in the past, men were the ones who participated in the environmental conservation program, but now the majority of the participants are women.
“In my group, the majority are women and we appreciate it, because women are the best interpreters, they explain things better and the one explained by women understands them more quickly than the man would explain. Women are the ones who help us in the campaign to encourage the people to participate in tree planting in order to protect the environment.” Said Ndikubwimana.
In an exclusive interview with Rwandanews24, Mr. Athanase Harerimana, Coordinator of the Biodiversity Conservation Cooperatives (Union des Coopératives Agricoles Intégrées/ UNICOOPAGI), said that “The community is being provided with trees as part of the development team for the Nyungwe National Park Biodiversity Development Program. The recipients of the trees are members of the group and members of the cooperative and non-members but have groups in which they belong.”
Regarding the source of tree seedlings to the community, Mr. Harerimana said: “UNICOOPAGI prepares seedlings of various species of trees including planting trees mixed with plants and edible fruit trees. We do not sell them, we give them for free.
Dr. Ange Imanishimwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Biodiversity Conservation Organization in Rwanda (BIOCOOR) is an expert in the environment conservation and ecosystems, says that women are special in the environment conservation and other activities.
He said, “Except these older women and men participate in conservation programs, women usually have their unique in all activities. That is why it is good to have a large number of women in all domain because they are more productive than men in motivating others to participate in certain activities.
He goes on to say that when a woman participates in a certain activity, she reaches home and shares it with her family, friends and neighbors. But it is not often that men come home and share the knowledge gained that day with family members.
According to the https://www.rfa.rw/fileadmin/user_upload/RFA/Publications/Rwanda_Forest_Cover_Mapping_November_2019_.pdf Rwanda’s forests cover an area of 30.4 percent, an area of 8,006.7 square kilometers. Compared to the area of different provinces of the country, it was found that forests have reached the same size as the Western and Northern Provinces combined. The census was conducted by the Rwanda National Forestry Authority. There are many wild animals that live in these forests including deer, Kobs, The duiker (locally known as Ifumberi), l’hoest’s monkey (locally known as Icyondi) among others.