KIGALI - Different activities carried out within Rwanda’s major forests contribute up to 5 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a senior government official said yesterday.
The revelation was made by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Stanislas Kamanzi, during an interview with The New Times yesterday.
“Annually, forestry contributes to the national GDP Rwf 2.6bn which represents five percent,” said Kamanzi.
Clarifying previous reports that the government incurs losses amounting to billions as a result of tree felling, the minister refuted the reports and instead said that the government was reaping big from forest harvesting.
“Definitely people need wood and charcoal for domestic use which have a certain monetary value. But we want to make it clear that the perception is not about the loss that is linked to tree felling, instead it should be perceived as earnings and a contribution to the growth of the country.”
He however said that government is currently trying to protect the environment through reforestation.
“Forestry is an investment from which one should expect returns. A tree grows and at a certain time it needs to be harvested for different purposes like production of biomass energy and other customary uses that generate money,” he said.
“So felling trees is not a problem, the problem is illegal or inappropriate felling of trees. Forest harvesting within a planned framework is very much welcome, and actually that is something that we have always highlighted as an incentive for investors.”
Kamanzi blamed some developmental projects that hinder the survival of forests saying that forests have been one of the simple target areas to implement certain projects.
Asked if there have been any form of inappropriate or illegal cutting down of trees, the minister admitted and condemned the activity.
“Yes, it has happened unfortunately in the past days. It’s unfortunate because most of these inappropriate cutting down of trees are linked to some developmental projects and programmes such as crop intensification programme and the new settlement programme (imidugudu) whereby some forested areas have been targeted as prime areas for implementation of such policies,” said Kamanzi.
“Rwanda aims at sustainable development which should be based on sound environment; if you don’t take care of your environment you can’t achieve sustainable development”