By Elias Hakizimana.
The government of Rwanda targets to plant trees on 30 percent of the rest of its land by 2020, that exceeds 700,000 hectares.
Most of the trees will be planted on long hills to restore degraded forests. Some other trees including those mixed with crops as well as new species will also be planted to boost nutrition and cope with climate change effects.
On October 27, 2018, about 35,000 trees were planted at Rebero in Kicukiro District, Gatenga/Rebero Sector, Kigarama cell in Gahanga Village on 22 hectares as the 2018/19 Tree Planting Season kicked off in Rwanda. These trees were planted along with the community work ‘Umuganda’ that saved about Rwf 15 million.
The same day, the country also joins hand with the rest of the world to celebrate the 43rd Anniversary of Tree Planting Day. This boost was organized by The Ministry of Environment (MoE) through Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA).
Under the theme ‘Plant Trees for Health and Wealth’, the celebration brought together local residents, government officials, the Rwanda Defence Force and the Rwanda National Police to plant trees.
2018/19 Tree Planting Season Under the National Strategy for Transformation, Rwanda aims to increase forest coverage to 30% (714,102 ha) and sustain this level. Current, the country’s forest coverage is equivalent to 29.8%, of which plantation forests occupy 17.9 % and natural forests comprise 11.9%.
The initiative will also help to rehabilitate degraded forests, protect soil and fight against erosion, as well as plant fruit trees that are important in nutrition and food security.
According to Prime Ngabonziza, Director General of RWFA, a total of 38,119 hectares of agroforestry plus 4,800 hectares of classic forestry and 225,440 fruit trees will be planted throughout the season.
In addition, 670 hectares of degraded forests will be rehabilitated countrywide. These efforts will support Rwanda to achieve the target of covering 30% of the country with forests. Today, that figure stands at 29.8%.
Tree Planting activities will continue in all districts and will be carried out through the whole planting season.
“We started this initiative countrywide following the rainfall and a significant number of seedlings was prepared. We expect to plant approximately 38,000 hectares of trees that are crop-friendly and we encourage citizens to plant all these species of trees to improve their nutrition and support their financial capacity,” Ngabonziza said.
The planted trees during Umuganda are expected to give production in next five to eight years. Citizens are recommended to preserve them to ensure successful growth.
Currently, 1ha hosts only twenty trees and the government targets to increase to between 100 and 250 trees.
Special attention will be given to the City of Kigali and Eastern Province due to shortage of forest cover in these areas.
Special community work (Umuganda) events will be organised from September 2018 to April 2019 to engage local communities to prepare the planting sites, create contour lines, plant trees and plant grasses to fight against erosion on agricultural lands.
In the City of Kigali, 85.5 ha of classic forests, 989.5 ha of agroforestry and 50,820 fruits trees will be planted.
Forest rehabilitation on Mount Kigali, Mount Jali and Mount Rebero will collectively be carried out on 3,34.4 ha.
In the Eastern Province, where the forest cover is low compared to the other parts of the country, 28,002 ha of agroforestry, 4,255 ha of classic forest and 68,788 fruit trees will be planted.
More effort will also be invested in maintaining existing forests and raising awareness in the community to plant and maintain their own forests.
Dr Jeanne Nyirahabimana, Kicukiro Ditrict mayor commended the initiative that started in the district she heads as it is among the most affected areas with forest and soil degradation.
“Today, we have also planted 150 agroforestry at Ayabaraya village, we plan to plant 180 ha of agroforestry, 75 ha to replace old trees, 30 ha of new forest and 9,900 ha of fruits,” said Nyirahabimana.
Annually, only the City of Kigali spends Rwf 1.5 billion to build drainage canals as sustainable solution to bridge gaps of degraded forests and soil due to erosion. This was revealed by Parfait Busabizwa, the vice-mayor in charge of economic development.
Marie Solange Kayisire, Minister of Cabinet Affairs called on more efforts to promote forest exploitation and profitability to sustain the countries development.
She said that poor forest management and preservation leads to poor productivity as per 1 hectare the produce is 150 cubic meter while this should have been doubled to reach between 250 and 300 cubic meters.
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