News Rwanda set to benefit from Africa forest restoration drive

Rwanda’s efforts to increase its forest cover and rehabilitate degraded forests could soon be boosted by a new initiative launched last week at the Global Landscape Forum, during the climate change meeting in Paris or COP21.

Concerned URL http://www.newtimes.co.rw
Source the newtimes of 15 december, 2015
Release date 22/12/2015
Contributor Lewis Mary Ndayisaba
Keywords Forest restoration, Forest cover

Rwanda’s efforts to increase its forest cover and rehabilitate degraded forests could soon be boosted by a new initiative launched last week at the Global Landscape Forum, during the climate change meeting in Paris or COP21.

Information from the ministry of Natural Resources shows that Rwanda’s forest cover   diminished rapidly in the 1990s due to poor forest management and land use conflict.

Over 90 per cent of the Rwandan population still uses wood as a major source of energy while another section of the population still do not consider forests as an important source to generate income.

According to the latest Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey, 98.5 per cent of Rwandan households use fuel wood and charcoal, which are a threat to forests.

That percentage must decrease to 50 per cent through planting forests and managing them well, experts say.

The country targets to increase forest coverage to 30 per cent by 2020.

The mass tree planting campaign launched last month seeks to add extra 66,000 hectares as 30 million seedlings are to be planted this fiscal year.

The campaign targets to rehabilitate 500ha of degraded forests in Gatsibo District and Gishwati forest, creating 2,090ha of eucalyptus plantations and 576ha of Native forests (Gishwati I) which has to continue with 500ha of Native species in Gishwati II project, according to the ministry.

 However, officials say there is need for partnership to accelerate these efforts.

AFR1OO could intervene

Dr Vincent Biruta, the Minister for Natural Resources, who attended the initiative launch in Paris, said: “Restoring our landscapes brings prosperity, security and opportunity. With forest landscape restoration we have seen agricultural yields raise and farmers in our rural communities diversify their livelihoods and improve their well-being. Forest landscape restoration is not just an environmental strategy,  it is an economic and social development strategy as well.”

Countries have already committed more than 42 million hectares of land as AFR100 partners are earmarking more than $1 billion in development finance and more than $540 million in private sector impact investment to support restoration activities by 2030.

 Building on successful stories, in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, local communities have already restored over 1 million hectares, making the land more drought-resistant.

Local residents in Rusororo, Gasabo District plant trees during Umuganda last year.

In Niger, farmers have increased the number of on-farm trees across 5 million hectares of agricultural landscapes, improving food security for 2.5 million people.

The forest landscape restoration was a key ingredient of the global movement to adapt to and mitigate climate change, experts said.

 Commitments made through AFR100 initiative build on significant African climate pledges, including restoration of forests or “climate-smart” agriculture made to support a binding global climate agreement.

 However, African negotiators insisted on financing in the agreement.

 Nine financial partners and 10 technical assistance providers have since pledged support.

 “We need to scale up restoration across the whole continent, and create platform to work together more effectively to accelerate the achievement of restoration successes to benefit tens of millions of people who are currently searching for ways to adapt to climate change and improve their well-being,” said Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD and former Prime Minister of Niger.

 AFR100 will help to translate ambitious commitments into action with support from private sector investors, foundations, development banks, and bilateral and multilateral funders as well as a variety of financing like equity investments, loans and others.

 An analysis indicates that these commitments would cumulatively reduce emissions by 36 per cent of Africa’s annual emissions and 0.25 per cent of global emissions.

 “African countries which bear the least historic responsibility for climate change, are showing leadership with ambitious pledges to restore land which will help sequester carbon and bring economic benefits to low-income, rural communities,” said Dr Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute.

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