Rwanda is working to restore its forests and protect its landscapes using a multidimensional approach to ensure a bright future for generations to come, the Minister for Natural Resources, Vincent Biruta, has said.
Biruta was speaking Wednesday during the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 Dinner hosted by the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, a global public-private partnership to reduce tropical deforestation, on the sidelines of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa taking place in Kigali.
Biruta said Rwanda has taken a proactive approach to conservation and green growth, created robust policy and institutional frameworks and strengthened national capacity to ensure the environment is at the heart of every intervention.
“The guiding principle for achieving our conservation objectives has always been: ‘People First.’ We recognised early on that we could only reach both our economic and ecological goals if environmental protection initiatives also improved the lives of our people,” Biruta said.
He also spoke of the investment made in protecting Rwanda’s national parks.
“The restoration of Gishwati-Mukura National Park is placing the communities that lived in and around the park at the centre of its conservation. By investing in local residents to protect the park, livelihoods have improved, forest coverage is growing and wildlife numbers are on the rise,” he said.
“Through a project known as the Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC), almost 4,000 hectares in and around the park will be rehabilitated and managed sustainably. This five year, $10 million initiative is demonstrating the impact landscape management can have,” he added.
The minister also hailed efforts to introduce silvo-pastoralism in the Gishwati rangelands. Silvo-pastoralism is a form of agro-forestry system consisting of the trees as well as pasture and animal components whereby forestry and grazing of domesticated animals is combined in a mutually beneficial way.
Under LAFREC, silvo-pastoral practices are set to be introduced on 500 hectares in Rubavu, Rutsiro, Nyabihu and Ngororero districts from which farmers will learn and extend the practice to other areas.
LAFREC is a five-year project implemented by Rwanda Environment Management Authority, which is expected to result in a major advance in the restoration of the highly degraded Gishwati-Mukura landscape and enhance both its productive and environmental values.