Decentralise afforestation initiatives to mitigate climate change

Global warming is still a debate between us. Most people do not believe that our world is warming up, they believe the climate is in a cycle, and that humans do not contribute to the warming of our climate.

Global warming is still a debate between us. Most people do not believe that our world is warming up, they believe the climate is in a cycle, and that humans do not contribute to the warming of our climate. Research supports the fact that global warming is a huge factor in climate change and that human activities are increasing the warming of our world. This affects wildlife, plants, ecosystem, agriculture, health, forest, coastal areas, energy, and recreation.

Looking around the world today, we see that our seasons come in later times than usual, animals are migrating farther than they usually do, to find food and water because it is too hot and the waters are drying up and food source is scarce. Fish populations could be affected, while some insects which spread disease might become more common. Our climate is changing, and this is as a result of global warming. The earlier people are educated and aware of this, and take caution to help preserve and save our environment; the better it is for our climate, if not I fear the future impact.


In Layman’s terms, just like the name implies, global warming is the heating up or the warming of the earth. It primarily results from too much carbon dioxide (CO2) gases and other greenhouse gases which act as some sort of layer, that trap heat in the atmosphere. The green house gases have different heat-trapping abilities. Some of them can even trap more heat than Carbon dioxide but because their concentrations are much lower than CO2, none of these gases adds as much warmth to the atmosphere as it does, according to National Geographic -Global Warming, Climate Change Causes.


We can deal with global warming if we stop making C02 by switching from oil, coal and gas to renewable energy. Using less energy and recycle more products is more environmentally friendly, the earth’s temperature may not rise too much. The most outstanding solution is to plant more trees (afforestation). Trees absorb C02 and produce oxygen, which is not a greenhouse gas.


While growing, trees take up carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their biomass (biogeochemical effect). On the other hand, changing land-cover to trees also affects the amount of short-wave radiation reflected back to space (biogeophysical effect), directly by surface albedo and indirectly by the contribution to cloud formation (Bonan 2008). Several studies with earth system models have shown that an expansion of forest in the tropics results in cooling due to the combined effect of carbon sequestration and albedo change.

In order to mitigate climate change, land-based carbon dioxide removal will likely have to play an important role. Afforestation has been identified as a comparatively low-cost option to sequester carbon because it offers a high potential for carbon dioxide removal.

In Rwanda, photographs taken in the early years show landscapes almost devoid of trees-a stark contrast to the present. The combination of farmers’ efforts and external pressure to plant more trees has resulted in an increase in the number of trees in the landscape and affected the agroforestry systems found in the country today.

Considering the limited national forest area in Rwanda, the potential for agroforestry to augment the wood supply and environmental protection has been considered important due to the added advantage of supporting agricultural intensification. It has been promoted among smallholder farmers by government projects, externally funded projects and NGOs. The first agroforestry projects in Rwanda started in the 1970s (Ndayambaje et al. 2014). The Rwanda Vision 2020 has further set the goal to expand agroforestry practices over 80 percent of agricultural land (MINICOFIN 2000) in line with the national forest policy which aims to promote farm forestry (agroforestry), to achieve the national economic development and poverty reduction targets including the EDPRS and the MDG targets.

In the semi-arid regions of the country (Eastern Savannah and Eastern Plateau), an interesting agroforestry initiative has been implemented in recent years by World Vision and ICRAF to promotethe rapid adoption of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). Their activities included the restoration of indigenous tree species lost due to overexploitation for the supply of traditional medicines, fodder and woodfuel at the expense of climate change.

The government has put in considerable efforts in emphasising and implementing afforestation, reforestation and agroforestry initiatives in the country especially at the national level. However, there is still a gap which can be bridged by decentralising these efforts to the grass root levels involving more actors such as NGOs, the private sector, farmer cooperatives and individuals. Making small changes now in the way we live means avoiding huge changes in the future.

Patrick Kagaba, Agriculturalist and climate change activist.

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