On 21 March 2016, Honourable Dr. Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources, inaugurated the Hub during a celebration of the International Day of Forests in Kigali, Rwanda. He stated, “Restoring our landscapes brings prosperity, security and opportunity. With forest landscape restoration we have seen agricultural yields rise, 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; and we are committed to continue these endeavors and take them further.”
On behalf of IUCN, Stewart Magginis, Director of the Forest and Climate Change Programme, added that IUCN will continue to provide strategic and technical leadership to all countries committed to the Bonn Challenge. The regional Hub for Eastern and Southern Africa will provide technical capacity and effective measurement mechanisms for restoration activities, mobilise resources and knowledge sharing, and be a reliable source of accurate and current data about restoration initiatives across the region.
IUCN involvement in FLR in the region began several years ago and evolved into a pilot study for the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) to identify priority landscapes for restoration in Rwanda. From there, efforts have grown and IUCN continues to work with other countries in the region including: Malawi, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. The Hub is expected to continue building on these efforts and increase linkages between the public and private sectors. It will serve to coordinate stakeholders for learning and exchanges on best practices by creating a nursery network, building the capacity of seed centres and providing technical restoration packages, among many other benefits.