Rwanda, Canada partner to increase forest cover

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canadian government have partnered to plant model forests in six districts.
There is will among citizens to preserve natural resources  and improve forest cover in Rwanda according to experts. The New Times/File.
There is will among citizens to preserve natural resources and improve forest cover in Rwanda according to experts. The New Times/File.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canadian government have partnered to plant model forests in six districts.

Already, a pilot project is being implemented in areas most affected by degradation in Musanze, Burera, Rutsiro, Rubavu, Ngororero, and Nyabihu districts. Also, an interim committee to follow up on activities and mobilise residents has been set up.

The drive, which seeks to increase forest cover countrywide, was disclosed by Dismas Bakundukize, the director of forestry management unit in the Natural Resources Authority while speaking at a meeting of stakeholders in Musanze District on Wednesday. According to a World Bank report published in 2012, 17.63 per cent of Rwanda’s land was covered by forests.

“The idea of a model forest will enable Rwandans to have a common understanding on environmental protection,” said  Bakundukize.

He cited construction and agriculture among the main threats to the environment if not carried out properly.

“Once the model forest is adopted and everyone understands their role to protect environment, our natural resources will be sustained.”

Forming partnerships

During the meeting, Rwandans were urged to have a common understanding of environment conservation for sustainable protection of the country’s natural resources.

According to the official, the implementation of the model forest project will involve forming partnerships among individuals and organisations sharing a common goal of sustainable forest management.

The partnership will provide a unique forum where members can gain a greater understanding of conflicting views, share knowledge and combine expertise and resources to develop innovative, local approaches to sustainable forest management.

Janviere Muhayimana, the vice president of the committee set up to follow on activities and to mobilise residents said the idea of a model forest had been well received in the areas where it started.

“Residents have embraced the idea of model forests. For instance, together with locals, we have planted trees which will protect a local lake (Karago) in Nyabihu District,” Muhayimana said.

Officials said the plan is to roll out the model forest project countrywide after seeing its implementation in the pilot districts.

Experts behind the project observed that there is political will to preserve natural resources in Rwanda.

In 2011, Rwanda’s National Forest Policy won the 2011 Future Policy Award as the world’s most inspiring and innovative forest policy. The policy emerged top of the three winning policies which most effectively contribute to the conservation and sustainable development of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

Some countries in Africa such as Cameroon and Nigeria have adopted the programme of model forest with some degree of success.

The Canadian Forest Service, part of Natural Resources Canada, established the Canadian Model Forest Network in 1992 to help address the challenge of balancing the extensive range of demands placed on country’s forests with the needs of tomorrow’s generations.

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