One of the goals that Rwanda had set for itself in achieving the First Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS I) of Vision 2020, was to have national forest cover of 30% of Rwanda’s land mass, covering an area of 7,901.4 square kilometers. The census showed that this target was achieved and exceeded at 30.4%, or 8,006.7 square kilometers. Achieving a target of 30% over 105,352 square kilometers is a long and arduous journey that has required the efforts of the state, the Rwandan people, the private sector and NGOs in general.
The Rwanda Forestry Agency states that in achieving this milestone, the Government has set the size of the area to be afforested each year. The government has set up hectares of forests to be planted annually, which is also in line with the amount of money it has been investing for the purpose of what will be planted. Through the Ministry of Finance, Planning, donors and different NGOs, the government has been providing capacity to plant these forests. In the forest census conducted every ten years, from 2009 when the first one was done to the next one in 2019 there was a 30.4% increase in forest cover. But there was a target of afforestation of more than 4,000 hectares per year, with an area of at least 712,104 hectares in those years [2009-2019]. The area was counted without trees mixed with age, and the goal was to plant 45,000 hectares per year. During the afforestation program, the existing conservation activities were also being planned to bring them together.
In its strategy to achieve its goals, the Government has not only focused on budgeting but also campaigned to make Rwandans feel that the goal is theirs, and that they can contribute. They heard about it and put a lot of effort into it, but 67% of Rwanda’s forests are now owned by the people, which are mainly used when timber production is needed.
As Rwanda’s forests grow, so does the need for conservation and productivity. In the process, old forests can be used sustainably as wood, charcoal or firewood. Rwanda Forest Agency states that the Government is in the process of finding out how old forests could be handed over to the private sector and managed by them in a variety of ways.
Country Director, CYNESA Rwanda.