Rwanda Leads in Reforestation

Rwanda_sm

By Gerald Tenywa
New Vision

Photos and video added by Haiti Chery

Rwanda gained 50.9% more forest cover between 1990 and 2005, or around 162,000 hectares [400,000 acres]. This is the fastest growth rate in the world.

Only two other countries in Africa saw their forests expand in that period, albeit at a much slower rate: Gambia (6.6%) and Ivory Coast (1.8%).

Reforestation project in Rwanda (Moringa oleifera plantations).

Most of the tree planting in Rwanda took place between 2000 and 2005. While its forest cover grew by only 0.8% between 1990 and 2000, this rate went up ten-fold in the five years that followed.

Almost 20% of the country, or 480,000 hectares [1,186,000 acres], is now covered with forest. And 7.7% of the country is under some kind of protection.

Up until the early 1990s, Rwanda’s conservation policy worked reasonably well. To protect the mountain gorillas from poachers, and their habitat from destruction by farmers, the government had created Volcanoes National Park.

Threatened mountain gorillas find one of their few remaining sanctuaries in Rwanda.

The government had also implemented strict anti-poaching patrols, using local farmers as park rangers and guards.

Non-park areas, however, were still threatened by subsistence agriculture and fuel wood collection, as they had been for decades.

The situation deteriorated drastically with the civil war that erupted in 1990. Although the chaos initially did not do much damage to the forests, the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people in 1993 and 1994 took its toll on the environment.

Refugees and the displaced stripped the hillsides of their vegetation for firewood. Many conservation workers fled or were killed during the genocide, while soldiers moved into national parks, hunting wildlife and razing forests for building materials.

Only Nyungwe Forest was spared. Participation by local people sustained conservation projects even as the genocide occurred. Local people became stewards of the national park after the expatriate staff fled the country, and protected the park from forest exploiters.

Nyungwe Forest, in southwestern Rwanda.

After the war, it was the returning exiles who took over some of the parks, by using them for grazing their livestock. Akagera National Park, an area of savanna and wetland, was hit particularly hard.

The tide began to turn in 2000 when the government of President Paul Kagame declared a national tree-planting week, in which every adult was compelled to plant trees for various purposes, timber, fruits and medicines.

Every year during that period, local administration authorities distribute free seedlings, received from the central government, and monitor the tree planting, ensuring that no seedlings are wasted.

The government also restructured its forestry sector by putting in place a new policy and law. It established the National Forestry Authority of Rwanda to manage the protected forests.

“Our aim is to increase the forest cover to 30% of the country by 2020,”

said Jones Ruhombe, a lead consultant in the restructuring team, in an interview with The New Vision.

The Forest of Hope’s Gishwati National Conservation Park in western Rwanda is home to a small population of chimpanzees; a bonobo is pictured (Credit: Hemera/Thinkstock).

In addition, conservationists last year launched an ambitious reforestation project aimed at creating a forest corridor to link an isolated group of chimpanzees to larger areas of habitat in Nyungwe National Park.

“This is an ambitious plan. The Gishwati chimpanzees are on the brink of extinction. Every newly planted tree increases their chance of survival by providing additional food, shelter and security from people,”

said Dr. Benjamin Beck, director of conservation at Great Ape Trust, which supported the project.

Backers of the Rwanda National Conservation Park say the project will help restore biodiversity and ecosystem services including improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, flooding, and landslides and increasing carbon sequestration.

The initiative is also expected to generate income for Rwandans through eco-tourism, investment opportunity and local employment.

“We must of course find ways to adequately and sustainably compensate people whose agricultural productivity is decreased by reforestation,” said Beck.

“One answer will be a new eco-tourism destination resulting in employment opportunities for local people as trackers and forest managers.”

In the past three years, Rwanda has seen hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign investment for the development of hotels and tourist facilities.

Asked what the secret is of Rwanda’s reforestation success, Ruhombe said

‘principled leadership’.

“In Rwanda, like in no other country in Africa, there is law and order. People cannot just go into a forest reserve and start cutting trees. Nobody is above the law, not even the president.”

 

Sources: New Vision | Haiti Chery

 

Rwanda leads in reforestation

By Gerald Tenywa
New Vision

Rwanda gained 50.9% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005, or around 162,000 hectares [400,000 acres]. This is the highest growth rate in the world.

Only two other countries in Africa saw its forests expand in that period, albeit at a much lower rate: Gambia (6.6%) and Ivory Coast (1.8%).

Most of the tree planting in Rwanda took place between 2000 and 2005. While its forest cover grew by only 0.8% between 1990 and 2000, this rate went up ten-fold in the five years that followed.

Almost 20% of the country, or 480,000 hectares [1,186,100], is now covered with forest. And 7.7% of the country is under some kind of protection.

Up until the early 1990s, Rwanda’s conservation policy worked reasonably well. To protect the mountain gorillas from poachers, and their habitat from destruction by farmers, the government had created Volcanoes National Park.

It had also implemented strict anti-poaching patrols, using local farmers as park rangers and guards.

Non-park areas, however, were still threatened by subsistence agriculture and fuel wood collection, as they had been for decades.

The situation deteriorated drastically with the civil war that erupted in 1990. Although the chaos initially did not do much damage to the forests, the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people in 1993 and 1994 took its toll on the environment.

Refugees and the displaced stripped the hillsides of their vegetation for firewood. Many conservation workers fled or were killed during the genocide, while soldiers moved into national parks, hunting wildlife and razing forests for building materials.

Only Nyungwe Forest was spared. Participation by local people sustained conservation projects even as the genocide occurred. Local people became stewards of the national park after the expatriate staff fled the country, and protected the park from forest exploiters.

After the war, it was the returning exiles who took over some of the parks, by using them for grazing their livestock. Akagera National Park, an area of savanna and wetland, was hit particularly hard.

The tide began to turn in 2000 when the government of President Paul Kagame declared a national tree-planting week, in which every adult was compelled to plant trees for various purposes, timber, fruits and medicines.

Every year during that period, local administration authorities distribute free seedlings, received from the central government, and monitor the tree planting, ensuring that no seedlings are wasted.

The government also restructured its forestry sector by putting in place a new policy and law. It established the National Forestry Authority of Rwanda to manage the protected forests.

“Our aim is to increase the forest cover to 30% of the country by 2020,”

said Jones Ruhombe, a lead consultant in the restructuring team, in an interview with The New Vision.

In addition, conservationists last year launched an ambitious reforestation project aimed at creating a forest corridor to link an isolated group of chimpanzees to larger areas of habitat in Nyungwe National Park.

“This is an ambitious plan. The Gishwati chimpanzees are on the brink of extinction. Every newly planted tree increases their chance of survival by providing additional food, shelter and security from people,”

said Dr. Benjamin Beck, director of conservation at Great Ape Trust, which supported the project.

Backers of the Rwanda National Conservation Park say the project will help restore biodiversity and ecosystem services including improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, flooding, and landslides and increasing carbon sequestration.

The initiative is also expected to generate income for Rwandans through eco-tourism, investment opportunity and local employment.

“We must of course find ways to adequately and sustainably compensate people whose agricultural productivity is decreased by reforestation,” said Beck.

“One answer will be a new ecotourism destination resulting in employment opportunities for local people as trackers and forest managers.”

In the past three years, Rwanda has seen hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign investment for the development of hotels and tourist facilities.
Asked what the secret is of Rwanda’s reforestation success, Ruhombe said

‘principled leadership’.

“In Rwanda, like in no other country in Africa, there is law and order. People cannot just go into a forest reserve and start cutting trees. Nobody is above the law, not even the president.”

 

Source: New Vision

 

Rwanda Wins Gold for Forest Conservation Blueprint

By Stephen Leahy
IPS

UXBRIDGE – Government policies are seldom lauded, yet Rwanda’s forest policy has resulted in a 37-percent increase in forest cover on a continent better known for deforestation and desertification.

Rwanda’s National Forest Policy has also resulted in reduced erosion, improved local water supplies and livelihoods, while helping to ensure peace in a country still recovering from the 1994 genocide.

Now Rwanda can also be known as the winner of the prestigious Future Policy Award for 2011.

“Rwanda has sought not only to make its forests a national priority, but has also used them as a platform to revolutionise its stances on women’s rights and creating a healthy environment,”

said Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement.

She issued a statement for the award ceremony in New York City last week just days before her death from cancer in Nairobi Monday at the age of 71.

“Rwanda has been a very divided country since the 1994 genocide but this policy is helping to bring peace and value to the people,”

said Alexandra Wandel, director of the World Future Council, which administers the Future Policy Awards.

The World Future Council is an international policy research organisation based in Hamburg, Germany that provides decision-makers with effective policy solutions.

“Our aim is to inspire other countries to adapt these successful policies to their individual needs.”

said Wandel told IPS.

This year’s award celebrates the UN Year of the Forest and highlights the critical importance of forests around the world – and especially for the 1.6 billion people who directly depend on them, she said.

Some 20 forest-related policies were submitted this year. Rwanda’s National Forest Policy was awarded the gold while The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy and the U.S. Lacey Act and 2008 amendment received the Silver Awards.

An international panel of experts selected the winners based on policies that were the most effective in the conservation and sustainable development of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

The evaluation criteria for the best forest policies are wide-ranging, including delivering essential benefits to local people now and in the long term, said Jan McAlpine, director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat and one of the judges.

“The panel (of experts) receives a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the policies that has been ‘peer-reviewed’ by NGOs, and others,”

McAlpine told IPS.

“It’s rare that a country gets complimented for doing something good.”

The biggest threats to forests are oil palm, cattle and agriculture such as soy production, she said. Forest policies in most countries need to be changed usually because they are focussed on timber production or on conservation and don’t consider forests as key part of the ecological, social and economic landscape, she said.

There is

“huge interest in looking at good policies that are replicable”, she said.

“It is very impressive what the World Future Council is doing.”

This year, Rwanda’s forest policy was the hands’ down winner.

“It’s quite stunning what they’ve accomplished,” said McAlpine.

Despite enormous land pressures from a growing population, Rwanda was able to increase forest cover 37 percent since 1990.

Massive reforestation and planting activities that promoted indigenous species and involved the local population were undertaken, and new measures such as agro-forestry and education about forest management.

Rwanda’s forest policy has brought a range of benefits, including a better water supply, reduction in erosion, improved livelihoods and better quality of life overall. The goal is to cover 30 percent of the country in forest by 2020.

“There was a strong consensus in selecting Rwanda’s National Forest Policy in a continent where the prospects for forests are generally bad,” said Wandel.

“The jury was also impressed by Rwanda’s land tenure reforms, including giving women equal rights to inherit land.”

Rwanda’s success gives hope for other countries, she said.

Africa’s Gambia won silver for its innovative policy of handing control of forests to the communities that use them. Despite being one of the world’s poorest countries, Gambia’s Community Forest Policy has reduced illegal logging and resulted in a net 8.5 percent more forest cover while reducing poverty.

“The policy has led to the development of new markets for dead branch wood and other forest products which benefit women and rural populations economically,” Wandel said.

The other silver went to the U.S. for its criminally-enforceable ban on importation of illegal timber, called the Lacey Act. The U.S. is the first country to address the major global problem of illegal logging that results in corruption and environmental damage, and costs producer countries billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The Lacey Act and its 2008 amendments have forced importers to take responsibility for their wood products. That helps to reduce illegal logging by withdrawing the huge rewards received by illegal loggers from the international market.

“One of our jurists from Ethiopia said the U.S. law acts like a global enforcement mechanism, helping the weakest countries to reduce their illegal logging,” said Wandel.

The European Union has developed similar legislation.

“We need visionary policies which support a sustainable and just world and protect future generations,” said Wandel.

 

Source: IPS

 

 

Rwanda leads in reforestation

By Gerald Tenywa
New Vision

Rwanda gained 50.9% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005, or around 162,000 hectares [400,000 acres]. This is the highest growth rate in the world.

Only two other countries in Africa saw its forests expand in that period, albeit at a much lower rate: Gambia (6.6%) and Ivory Coast (1.8%).

Most of the tree planting in Rwanda took place between 2000 and 2005. While its forest cover grew by only 0.8% between 1990 and 2000, this rate went up ten-fold in the five years that followed.

Almost 20% of the country, or 480,000 hectares [1,186,100], is now covered with forest. And 7.7% of the country is under some kind of protection.

Up until the early 1990s, Rwanda’s conservation policy worked reasonably well. To protect the mountain gorillas from poachers, and their habitat from destruction by farmers, the government had created Volcanoes National Park.

It had also implemented strict anti-poaching patrols, using local farmers as park rangers and guards.

Non-park areas, however, were still threatened by subsistence agriculture and fuel wood collection, as they had been for decades.

The situation deteriorated drastically with the civil war that erupted in 1990. Although the chaos initially did not do much damage to the forests, the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people in 1993 and 1994 took its toll on the environment.

Refugees and the displaced stripped the hillsides of their vegetation for firewood. Many conservation workers fled or were killed during the genocide, while soldiers moved into national parks, hunting wildlife and razing forests for building materials.

Only Nyungwe Forest was spared. Participation by local people sustained conservation projects even as the genocide occurred. Local people became stewards of the national park after the expatriate staff fled the country, and protected the park from forest exploiters.

After the war, it was the returning exiles who took over some of the parks, by using them for grazing their livestock. Akagera National Park, an area of savanna and wetland, was hit particularly hard.

The tide began to turn in 2000 when the government of President Paul Kagame declared a national tree-planting week, in which every adult was compelled to plant trees for various purposes, timber, fruits and medicines.

Every year during that period, local administration authorities distribute free seedlings, received from the central government, and monitor the tree planting, ensuring that no seedlings are wasted.

The government also restructured its forestry sector by putting in place a new policy and law. It established the National Forestry Authority of Rwanda to manage the protected forests.

“Our aim is to increase the forest cover to 30% of the country by 2020,”

said Jones Ruhombe, a lead consultant in the restructuring team, in an interview with The New Vision.

In addition, conservationists last year launched an ambitious reforestation project aimed at creating a forest corridor to link an isolated group of chimpanzees to larger areas of habitat in Nyungwe National Park.

“This is an ambitious plan. The Gishwati chimpanzees are on the brink of extinction. Every newly planted tree increases their chance of survival by providing additional food, shelter and security from people,”

said Dr. Benjamin Beck, director of conservation at Great Ape Trust, which supported the project.

Backers of the Rwanda National Conservation Park say the project will help restore biodiversity and ecosystem services including improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, flooding, and landslides and increasing carbon sequestration.

The initiative is also expected to generate income for Rwandans through eco-tourism, investment opportunity and local employment.

“We must of course find ways to adequately and sustainably compensate people whose agricultural productivity is decreased by reforestation,” said Beck.

“One answer will be a new ecotourism destination resulting in employment opportunities for local people as trackers and forest managers.”

In the past three years, Rwanda has seen hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign investment for the development of hotels and tourist facilities.
Asked what the secret is of Rwanda’s reforestation success, Ruhombe said

‘principled leadership’.

“In Rwanda, like in no other country in Africa, there is law and order. People cannot just go into a forest reserve and start cutting trees. Nobody is above the law, not even the president.”

 

Source: New Vision

 

Rwanda Wins Gold for Forest Conservation Blueprint

By Stephen Leahy
IPS

UXBRIDGE – Government policies are seldom lauded, yet Rwanda’s forest policy has resulted in a 37-percent increase in forest cover on a continent better known for deforestation and desertification.

Rwanda’s National Forest Policy has also resulted in reduced erosion, improved local water supplies and livelihoods, while helping to ensure peace in a country still recovering from the 1994 genocide.

Now Rwanda can also be known as the winner of the prestigious Future Policy Award for 2011.

“Rwanda has sought not only to make its forests a national priority, but has also used them as a platform to revolutionise its stances on women’s rights and creating a healthy environment,”

said Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement.

She issued a statement for the award ceremony in New York City last week just days before her death from cancer in Nairobi Monday at the age of 71.

“Rwanda has been a very divided country since the 1994 genocide but this policy is helping to bring peace and value to the people,”

said Alexandra Wandel, director of the World Future Council, which administers the Future Policy Awards.

The World Future Council is an international policy research organisation based in Hamburg, Germany that provides decision-makers with effective policy solutions.

“Our aim is to inspire other countries to adapt these successful policies to their individual needs.”

said Wandel told IPS.

This year’s award celebrates the UN Year of the Forest and highlights the critical importance of forests around the world – and especially for the 1.6 billion people who directly depend on them, she said.

Some 20 forest-related policies were submitted this year. Rwanda’s National Forest Policy was awarded the gold while The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy and the U.S. Lacey Act and 2008 amendment received the Silver Awards.

An international panel of experts selected the winners based on policies that were the most effective in the conservation and sustainable development of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

The evaluation criteria for the best forest policies are wide-ranging, including delivering essential benefits to local people now and in the long term, said Jan McAlpine, director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat and one of the judges.

“The panel (of experts) receives a detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the policies that has been ‘peer-reviewed’ by NGOs, and others,”

McAlpine told IPS.

“It’s rare that a country gets complimented for doing something good.”

The biggest threats to forests are oil palm, cattle and agriculture such as soy production, she said. Forest policies in most countries need to be changed usually because they are focussed on timber production or on conservation and don’t consider forests as key part of the ecological, social and economic landscape, she said.

There is

“huge interest in looking at good policies that are replicable”, she said.

“It is very impressive what the World Future Council is doing.”

This year, Rwanda’s forest policy was the hands’ down winner.

“It’s quite stunning what they’ve accomplished,” said McAlpine.

Despite enormous land pressures from a growing population, Rwanda was able to increase forest cover 37 percent since 1990.

Massive reforestation and planting activities that promoted indigenous species and involved the local population were undertaken, and new measures such as agro-forestry and education about forest management.

Rwanda’s forest policy has brought a range of benefits, including a better water supply, reduction in erosion, improved livelihoods and better quality of life overall. The goal is to cover 30 percent of the country in forest by 2020.

“There was a strong consensus in selecting Rwanda’s National Forest Policy in a continent where the prospects for forests are generally bad,” said Wandel.

“The jury was also impressed by Rwanda’s land tenure reforms, including giving women equal rights to inherit land.”

Rwanda’s success gives hope for other countries, she said.

Africa’s Gambia won silver for its innovative policy of handing control of forests to the communities that use them. Despite being one of the world’s poorest countries, Gambia’s Community Forest Policy has reduced illegal logging and resulted in a net 8.5 percent more forest cover while reducing poverty.

“The policy has led to the development of new markets for dead branch wood and other forest products which benefit women and rural populations economically,” Wandel said.

The other silver went to the U.S. for its criminally-enforceable ban on importation of illegal timber, called the Lacey Act. The U.S. is the first country to address the major global problem of illegal logging that results in corruption and environmental damage, and costs producer countries billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The Lacey Act and its 2008 amendments have forced importers to take responsibility for their wood products. That helps to reduce illegal logging by withdrawing the huge rewards received by illegal loggers from the international market.

“One of our jurists from Ethiopia said the U.S. law acts like a global enforcement mechanism, helping the weakest countries to reduce their illegal logging,” said Wandel.

The European Union has developed similar legislation.

“We need visionary policies which support a sustainable and just world and protect future generations,” said Wandel.

 

Source: IPS

 

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