By Deus Ntakirutimana
In an effort to sustain and increase Rwanda’s forests cover and their protection, Rwanda Forestry Authority (RFA) in collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Nyagatare District through AREECA (Alliance for Restoration of Forest Landscapes and Ecosystems in Africa) project donated mored improved cooking stoves to 250 residents of Rwimiyaga Sector in Nyagatare District.
The Rwanda Forestry Authority and IUCN Rwanda said that donating such improved Cooking stoves to local communities is one of the initiatives that seek to fight deforestation in the Eastern Part of Rwanda.
Mr. Jean Pierre Rudatinya , in Charge of the Forest Department of Rwanda Forestry Authority urged residents of Rwimiyaga Sector to protect trees by using such improved cook stoves while also keeping an eye to those who want to destroy the planted ones or harming the environment in general.
“Citizens are at the forefront of helping us to be an eye for the protection of the forests. If a citizen finds someone is committing any act of deforestation, he/she should not wait for the Executive Secretary of the Sector or the Forest Officer to come and stop that act. Everyone has a voice that can prevent damage to the planted trees,” he said.
In 2011, Rwanda was the first country in Africa to pledge to restore forest landscape as part of the Bonn Challenge. Later, the country demonstrated its leadership through the highly successful African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100).
The AREECA project which is part of the same initiative is on course to restore the ecological functionality and biological productivity of the landscapes of the districts of Kirehe and Nyagatare to enhance its ability to adequately meet multiple objectives including biodiversity conservation, climate change resilience and better livelihoods.
Mr. Matsiko Gonzague, the Vice Mayor in Charge of Economic Development in Nyagatare District revealed that the scarcity of trees and forests in the district is a major problem.
He says they plan to plant more trees in the district and that will support other afforestation programs that the district will implement together with its partners.
“In Nyagatare district, a large part of it is not planted yet. We are planning to plant trees in September during the rainy season. Our current plan is to plant trees in our entire district. We want to deal with the problem of drought as one of the impacts originating from the fact that we don’t have enough trees. ” Mr. Matsiko said.
“These Improved Cook Stoves that are given to the community can last between five and seven years. So, the beneficiaries are required to take good care of them so that they can reduce the amount of firewood which will make it easier for Nyagatare district to recover from the effects of drought” He added
Maniriho Jean Pierre, IUCN’s Programme Officer for Forest Landscape Restoration highlighted that the improved Cook stoves are expected to contribute to the protection of the trees which is in line with the AREECA project aimed at restoring the Eastern Province of Rwanda.
“You know, many Rwandans use firewood, so when we are conserving forests we also include a way to reduce the number of trees cut down for firewood, which is to say that if we provide such improved cook stoves we want residents to use less trees,” he said. “So, it’s a way of conserving forests.” Maniriho added.
The 4 years’ AREECA Project is funded by the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
A total of 25000 ha is being brought under restoration through the direct implementation of restoration measures in Nyagatare and Kirehe districts. This is being implemented in partnership with Rwanda Forestry Authority, IUCN, RWARRI, districts and local communities through an integrated landscape community approach.