By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
Various partners including members of the diplomatic corps joined residents of the city of Kigali in a monthly community work commonly known as “Umuganda” during which the 2022-2023 Tree Planting Season was launched.
This highly-attended community work was held in the Kigali Special Economic Zone where various trees species were planted with an emphasis on indigenous trees such as Maesopsis emnii, Sysyzium sp, Entandrophrogma excelsum, Prinus sp and Ficus sur.
Indigenous tree species are being planted all over the country after it became clear that these types of trees have been neglected yet have a major role in dealing with climate change.
Planting trees is part of Rwanda’s Forest and Landscape Restoration programs which are intertwined with the country’s economic growth to ensure that the country’s development is aligned well with the environment and nature conservation.
According to experts, indigenous tree species have been there for thousands years and have been a haven for biodiversity, source of food for humans, medicines and source of various woods products.
Dr Tenaw Tendela, IUCN AREECA Project Manager in Rwanda, “the most important thing focusing on indigenous tree species is in one hand, very much excellent in acclimatising and adapting the area. And the second one our indigenous tree species has been presenting various benefits as well.”
“As you might be aware, they can be used for medicinal purpose or any other kinds of things that come from them and the local people still use them for different purpose in their day to day lives.”
However, Dr Tenaw explained that tree planting should really go with its own purpose depending on the needed solution.
In her remarks, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment Dr. Mujawamariya Jeanne d’Arc reminded that there are still challenges where every person support can make a difference.
She said that Rwanda presents various opportunities where investors or donors can direct their support such as in promoting clean cooking technology in the use of improved cooking stoves by 2024.
“It is an urgent needs to support the viability of these cleaning cooking affinities and make them available to the local community. For instance, household must be using energy saving efficient cookstove by 2024.” Minister Mujawamariya said.
On the role of Rwanda’s degraded Forests, Minister Mujawamariya said “The restoration of degraded forest and diversification of forests will ensure valuable forest products, among others”
She also warned that “In the case of climate change impacts, our forestry will be exposed to more disease and parasites.
“There is a need to build our capacity in the forestry research to be able to avail resiliency to our communities. The assessment conducted indicated that Rwanda is losing a lot of soil through soil erosion and these impacts negatively, food security, increases disaster risk and pollutes water resources.” She added.
Minister Mujawamariya called on all states and partners to continue working together with Rwanda to plant more trees to save the future.
By using the story of a hard working mother Elephant, Mr. Maxuell Gomera, the UNDP Country Representative said that “When Nations of the world need to be sticking together like the elephant head, some are falling behind. Increasingly, when it comes to climate and nature crisis, governments are charting their own pathways so much”
He said that two days ago in its annual emissions reports unit, the United Nations Environment Programme showed that sufficient reduction in emissions can only be achieved if all countries are fully committed to a coordinated, cooperative effort.
“In this action (Umuganda), we have shown that we can pull together. We work together in practices like Umuganda. We can demonstrate what we can achieve and solve the mutual problems.” Gomera said.
“We’ve seen the benefits of homegrown solutions, and I must congratulate you and your government. Honourable Minister, all the hard work done. ” He said.
Mr. Gomera noted that once all initiatives that were put in place as homegrown solutions are enshrined in everyone’s minds and mobilise everybody, they must be no hindrances towards the global resolve in dealing with climate crisis.
“We haven’t got much choice. Either we get it and push the world deeper into trouble. Or we get it right and deliver benefits for biodiversity or climate change or jobs or economies. It is time for nations of the world to work together” He said.
In addition to planting trees, environmental protection activities carried out by various partners were exhibited. The Exhibition works include wood-based products, Energy saving cookstoves, medicinal herbs, Forests and landscape monitoring systems and other innovative products that protect the environment and nature.
According to Ms. Kaori Yasuda, the New IUCN Rwanda country Representative who for the first time participate in the launching of the Seasonal Rwanda’s Tree Planting Campaign since she arrived in Rwanda, four months ago, “This month’s Umuganda is a great experience.”
“You know, it’s a true way of living in harmony with nature. By planting trees physically, that was great. Also, what I appreciated is that we planted the native species. Originally they were here to restore degraded lands, and that this is showing the nature based solution and I hope planting native tree will result into the good survival rate while monitoring also continues.” She said.