MUSANZE - A one-day workshop meant to explore how best rural communities and local authorities can work together to conserve forests, was held in Musanze District yesterday, amid reports that some local authorities were behind forest degradation in the country.
Speaking at the workshop, the coordinator of strategic planning and policy formulation in the Ministry of Forestry and Mines, Fidele Uwizeye, cautioned local authorities against illegal felling of forests.
He disclosed that a recent survey indicated widespread degradation of forests by some public institutions, where some public land was allocated to agriculture and other human activities.
In Kagogo sector, Burera District, for example, over 300ha of state forest was uprooted for mining of wolfram, in Cyato sector, a state forest of 3ha was uprooted for tea plantation, while in Rulindo District, Cyinzuzi sector, Rusizi, Huye, state forests were cut for establishment of settlements (Midugudu).
While in Bushenyi sector, Nyamasheke district, 1 ha of state forest was cleared for construction of a school.
The workshop was organized by International Centre for soil Fertility and agriculture development- IFDC CATALIST aimed at exploring ways of involving the rural community, local authorities, civil society organizations and private sector in the tree planting campaign.
“There are rules regarding harvesting of forests which local authorities have got to abide by, but instead they think everything belongs to the government and cut down the forests, this has to stop,” Uwizeye said.
According to Laurence Uwimana, coordinator of IFDC CATALYST, the three-year regional project to safeguard forests aims to achieve sustainable energy production based on reforestation and the professionalization of the energy sector.
“Our goal is to boost fuelwood production by promoting private investment through efficient woodlot reforestation and agro forestry, strengthen the firewood and charcoal value chains,’’ Uwimana said.
IFDC, is an international organization governed by a board of directors from developed and developing countries focusing on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity.