The Director General of the National Forestry Authority, Frank Rutabingwa, has called on local government leaders to protect forestry reserves in their constituencies against human activity, as a means of ensuring a safe environment that contributes to sustainable development.
He was speaking at the public launch of a report conducted by Central African Region Program for Environment (CARPE), which revealed that four out of seven forestry reserves in the Eastern Province had almost been wiped out by farming activities.
Rutabingwa said that communities around forestry reserves usually take them for granted and don’t know their value to the society.
“Leaders must educate people on the value of these reserves. If they are protected and used in a sustainable manner, the people and the country at large will all benefit,” Rutabingwa said.
The President of CARPE Rwanda, Thadee Habiyambere, said in an interview that several public awareness campaigns had been conducted by the programme to sensitize people about the value of forests.
“There are laws in our country that govern the use of forests. NAFA, as our patron, are pushing for the revival of laws which prosecute or fine people who destroy such reserves,” Habiyambere said.
“CARPE recognizes the importance of forests; that’s why each year it sets aside $450,000 to conserve forest reserves in Central Africa,” Habiyambere added.
CARPE is an initiative by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) aimed at promoting sustainable natural resource management in the Congo Basin and operates in nine countries.