A newagro-forestry project is set to be introduced in Gishwati in a bid to increase forest cover, dairy production and enhance soil protection in the area.
Dubbed silvo-pastoralism, the project is to be introduced by Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC).
Under silvo-pastoralism forestry and grazing of domesticated animals is combined in a mutually beneficial way.
Trees are managed for high-value saw logs and, at the same time, provide shade and shelter for livestock and forage.
Silvo-pastoral systems have proved to increase numbers of species of ground insects and numbers of species of birds compared to conventionally grazed pasture.
Last week, a study tour was organised for representatives of cattle keepers in Gishwati.
The tour held in Gicumbi District, brought together about 30 community members, and leaders at sector and district levels from the districts of Rubavu, Nyabihu, Ngororero and Rutsiro where the project shall be introduced.
Speaking during the tour, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Dr Rose Mukankomeje said introducing silvo-pastoralism in Gishwati will enhance soil protection and increase long-term income due to the simultaneous production of trees and grazing of animals.
“This is a practice that we hope will contribute to both the transformation of the socio-economic welfare of communities in the Gishwati area and environment conservation,” Mukankomeje said.
Gad Tegeri, one of the participants, commended the initiative and noted that it will help improve their productivity and income.
“What we have seen is very impressive and we are more than ready to implement it. It is clear that silvo-pastoralism is a demonstration that environment and cattle keeping complement each other,” Tegeri said.
The LAFREC project aims at restoring the highly degraded Gishwati-Mukura landscape, boosting land management of the Gishwati and Mukura forests and improving local livelihoods, environment, and climate resilience within the area.
The 5-year project, funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF), is implemented by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).
A Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of the LAFREC project between REMA and partner institutions is due to be signed today in Kigali.