Rwanda to plant 43,000 hectares of trees in six months

RWANDA will, tomorrow, Saturday, kick off a national tree planting campaign to cover 43,589 hectares of land. The Ministry of Environment said, coinciding with the celebration of the 43rd National Tree Planting Day, this will be the start of  efforts by Rwanda to achieve the target of covering 30% of the country with forests. Currently, that figure stands at 29.8%..

The relevant Ministry issued a Press statement saying that throughout the 2018/2019 season, a total of 38,119 hectares of agroforestry, 4,800 hectares of classic forestry and 225,440 fruit trees will be planted.

This starts with the launch of the planting season at Rebero Hill in the capital Kigali. In addition, the statement said, 670 hectares of degraded forests will be rehabilitated countrywide. This aims to increase country’s forest coverage to 30% (714,102 ha) and sustain this level. Of the 29.8% forest coverage, plantation forests occupy 17.9 % while natural forests comprise 11.9%.

However, the 2016 National Forest Inventory had already revealed that the above mentioned forests were degradeded and need special attention to improve management of planted trees and rehabilitation of degraded forest lands.

The national tree planting campaign is organised by the Ministry of Environment through Rwanda Lands and Forestry Authority, along with the Ministry of Local Government, the Rwanda Defence Force, the Rwanda National Police, development partners, and communities.

This year’s season is dedicated to increasing community involvement and ownership in landscape restoration for enhanced impact and sustainability. To support the growth of agroforestry, trees will be planted on contour lines in collaboration with farmer communities.

During a recent tour of Southern Province, Prime Minister Dr Edourd Ngirente appealed to all Rwandans to at least plant one fruit tree as a way of fighting stunting which stands at 38% on the national level.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Environment says that to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the initiative, trees will be planted on consolidated lands as either agroforestry or woodlots. Ornamental trees will be planted in urban areas and Integrated Development project (IDP) model green villages and along roadsides.

Jean Pierre Mugabo – Head of Forestry at Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority told the Press that special attention will be being given to the City of Kigali and Eastern Province due to shortage of forest cover in these areas.

“Eastern Province covers large empty hills especially in the districts of Kirehe, Kayonza and Ngoma. We want to ensure that all these hills are planted with trees,” he said.

In the City of Kigali, 85.5 ha of classic forests, 989.5 ha of agroforestry and 50,820 fruits trees will be planted, while forest rehabilitation on Mount Kigali, Mount Jali and Mount Rebero will collectively be carried out on 3,34.4 ha. In the Eastern Province, 28,002 ha of agroforestry, 4,255 ha of classic forest and 68,788 fruit trees will be planted.

Special community work (Umuganda) events have been organised since last month and will go on throughout April 2019 to engage local communities to prepare the planting sites, create contour lines, plant trees and plant grasses to fight against erosion on agricultural lands.

According to Mugabo, Rwf4.4 billion has been set aside for tree planting period with two years of maintenance costs.

Reported by Dan Ngabonziza, KT Press, Rwanda

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