Rwanda has been selected to host the Regional Forest Landscape Restoration Centre of Excellence for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Officially inaugurated today at a ceremony in Kigali to mark the International Day of Forests on 21 March 2016, the centre will be operated in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
The International Day of Forests is a global celebration of the ways in which forests and trees sustain and protect us. This year, the theme was ‘Forests and Water’ and will focus on how forests are key to the planet’s supply of freshwater, which is essential for life.
“We are proud to host this centre and support global efforts to restore 150 million hectares of degraded & deforested lands by 2020,” said Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Vincent Biruta.
“The Regional Forest Landscape Restoration Centre of Excellence demonstrates Rwanda’s continued commitment to the protection and rehabilitation of our forests, as well as to sharing our experience and knowledge with the world.”
Rwanda celebrated the International Day of Forests by also hosting a policy dialogue. The dialogue discussed the contribution of forests to the country’s sustainable development.
The event held at the Serena Hotel in Kigali and brought together more than 100 high-level policymakers and experts from government institutions, regional and international non-government organisations.
Rwanda has committed to restore two million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020. Rwanda has also already achieved internationally set quota of having 30% forest cover by that time. Rwanda currently has 29.6%.
This commitment was made as part of the Bonn Challenge – a global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020.
As a result of this commitment, Rwanda became the first African country to pledge achieving a country-wide reversal of natural resources degradation, with a focus on water, soils, forests and biodiversity. This commitment will improve the quality and resilience of ecosystems, improve livelihoods, secure the country’s water and energy supply and support low carbon economic development.
In addition to the launch of the centre and policy dialogue, forestry staff joined residents and colleagues in the water sector to plant trees in Muhanga District. This activity is part of World Water Day due March 22 and ongoing efforts to protect Nyabarongo River from silt and soil erosion through reforestation.