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Rwanda's agenda for forest landscape restoration is intertwined with its socioeconomic transformation goals as presented in the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy and Vision 2020, providing a roadmap for forest cover increase up to 30% of the country's total land area. The country also has a number of policies to support restoration, such as the Green Growth and Climate Change Strategy (2011); National Forest Policy (initiated in 2004, revised in 2010 and currently under revision); Organic Law on Environment Protection and Management (2005); and Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda Phase III (2013). With these strong frameworks, Rwanda’s border to border restoration agenda intends to achieve the following specific objectives: increased agricultural productivity; improved food security and rural incomes; increased resilience to climate change; improved water supply; and reduced vulnerability to landslides and other disasters.

Quick Facts

Land use

Total land area
2,467,000 hectares
Area of forest
19.5% of land area
Area of agriculture
74.7% of land area
Area of permanent cropland
10.1% of land area

People

Population
11.6 million
Population growth
2.3% annually
Rural population
71.0%

Economics and development

GDP from agriculture
33.1%
GDP per person
697.30 USD

Climate change and biodiversity

CO2 emissions
0.10 metric tonnes per person
Threatened animal and plant species
61
Bonn Challenge Commitments
Goal year
2020
Date committed
Area committed
2,000,000 hectares
Potential economic benefit
628 million USD
Potential climate benefit
0.19 GtCO2 sequestered
Main forest types
Savannah and dry grasslands
Tropical/subtropical moist broadleaf forest
Highlighted benefits
Fuel
Water

In 2011, the government of Rwanda pledged to bring 2 million hectares under restoration by 2020, representing the proportionally highest national commitment to the Bonn Challenge to date. Given Rwanda’s high population density and the importance of agriculture to the economy, agroforestry—the incorporation of trees into agricultural landscapes—represents the most important and wide-reaching restoration opportunity. Natural forest regeneration, such as in the famed Gishwati Forest Reserve, as well as establishing protective forests along steep slopes, wetlands, and rivers also represent important restoration opportunities

National Restoration Targets
Total restoration target
1,585,030 hectares
National Forest and/or Climate Strategy and/or Low Carbon Development Strategy
Restoration target
1,582,030 hectares
National Forest Policy (May 2010)

According to Vision 2020, Rwanda's 2010 forest cover of 518,070 ha (21%) will increase to 30% (to 740,100 ha) by 2020 (p. 3), an increase of 222,030 ha.

Five Year Strategic Plan for the Environment and Natural Resources Sector 2014-2018

Implementing the 2nd phase of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, reset forest cover goal of 30% from 2020 to 2018 (an increase of 6.5% from 2012).

Strategic Plan for the Forest Sector 2009-2012 (June 2010)

85% of agricultural land is planted with agroforestry trees and mobilize farmers to plant 153 million trees in farming systems (annually) (p. 22-23)

MINIRENA (Ministry of Natural Resources): Agroforestry system will be increased to reach 85% of cultivated space by 2020. Arable land in Rwanda is estimated at 52% or 1.4 Mha. Therefore if agroforestry systems were deployed on 85% of cultivated space then agroforestry would cover 1.19 Mha. Although the MINIRENA agroforestry goal is applied to ‘cultivated space’ which is estimated at 1.6 Mha (p. 6), which would mean agroforestry should cover 1.36 Mha by 2020.

Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda – Phase III (July 2013)

MINAGRI's plan includes Program 1:Agriculture and Animal Resource Intensification, with a sub-program on agroforestry – up to 90% of farmers will use agroforestry by 2017 (p. 14)

Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA)

Tree Planting Day: Afforestation/reforestation efforts with emphasis on agroforestry (60% agroforestry species and the rest are for woodlots and fruit trees), with an aim to plant 8,150 ha/year  to help reach 30% forest cover goal (REMA states that Rwanda is at 28.8% forest cover at end of 2013/14).

Rwanda Environmental Policy (2003)

Forests – strategic actions: enhance rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems and restoration of threatened species (p. 34)

Environment Sub-Sector Strategic Plan 2010-2015 (May 2010)

Program 1: Ecosystem Rehabilitation for income generation (Funding required for program 1 (2010-2015): 17,880,416,000 Rwandan Francs, p. 34)

Rwanda Biodiversity Policy 2011-2015 (Sep. 2011)

Preferred option is the Rehabilitation of Degraded Ecosystems (p. 14), over 2012-2016 with a budget of (Rwandan Francs): 340,000,000 (Gov of Rwanda) + 985,000,000 (Donors) = 1,325,000,000 (p. 44)

Five-Year Strategic Plan for the Environment and Natural Resources Sector 2009-2013 (June 2009)

Forest Management and Afforestation Program has the following goals:  Rehabilitation Forests: 2000 ha (2009) to 100,000 ha (2013); New Planted Forests: 19,579 ha (2009) to 78,316 ha (2013) (p. 51, 77). These figures are not included in the total of InfoFLR since they would be double counted with the National Forest Policy.

National Strategy on Climate Change and Low Carbon Development (Oct 2011)

Programs of Action leading to Vision 2050 include: Sustainable forestry for degraded forest resources and Agroforestry (p. 94)

Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects
Restoration target
3,000 hectares
Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (4952)

Project 4952 (approved 2012 – CEO endorsed July 2014  – duration 60 months) includes at least 5,000 ha of critical forest and other landscapes ‘identified’ for restoration and conservation actions (p. 2) and at least 3,000 ha of natural forest within Gishwati restored (p. 3). The output includes a nation-wide landscape restoration strategy and operational guidelines. Total Finance: $9.5 M grant + $53.5 M = $63 M.

Building Resilience of Communities Living in Degraded Forests, Savannahs and Wetlands of Rwanda Through an Ecosystem Management Approach (5194)

Project 5194 (approved May 2013) includes financing of $5.5 M grant + $10.7 M co-financing = $16.2 M

FLR Assessments

Forest landscape restoration assessments in Rwanda have identified the following opportunities:

  • New agroforestry: 1,110,476 hectares
  • Improved management of woodlots: 255,930 hectares
  • Improved management of timber plantations: 17,849 hectares
  • Natural forests: 13,933 hectares
  • Protected forests: 128,191

For a total of 1,526,379 hectares of restoration opportunities. Due to population density, agroforestry comparatively offers the greatest opportunity, with approximately 30% suitability nationwide, on both flat and sloping lands.

Rwanda agroforestry opportunities on steep land
Opportunities for new agroforestry areas on steep slopes (3-30 degrees/5-50% incline).
Rwanda restoration opportunities on flat land
Opportunities for new agroforestry areas on flat and gently sloping land.

Further resources:

Key contacts:

  • Felix Rurangwa, Head of Extension and Ecosystem Management Unit, Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (Felix.Rurangwa @ rnra.rw)
  • Charles Karangwa, Regional Forest landscape Restoration Coordinator, Eastern and Southern Africa Region, IUCN (Charles.KARANGWA @ iucn.org)
  • Joseph Njue, GIS Officer Forest Landscape Restoration, Eastern and Southern Africa Region, IUCN (Joseph.Njue @ iucn.org)

 

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