The leaders and forests experts from across the African continent converged in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital to discuss restoration of forests with the target of 150 million hect
ares of world’s surface by 2020.
This target was set by world leaders at the “Bonn Challenge” ministerial roundtable held in Germany September 2011.
The Bonn Challenge is a global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.
In the opening remarks of “Africa Bonn Challenge” roundtable at Kigali Convention Centre today, Dr. Vincent Biruta Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources emphasized that forest restoration in Rwanda is a must.
“For Rwanda, forest landscape restoration is no longer a choice but a necessity to safeguard our development and protect our people,” Dr. Biruta said.
Rwanda has fared well in the areas of forest and land restoration after 1994 Genocide against Tutsi when there was massive forest degradation by displaced people fleeing war and returnees seeking new settlements.
Between 1995 and 1999, reforestation activities resumed at a modest scale with free distribution of seedlings and national forestation day launched with aim of fast-tracking restoration of forests and lands.
For instance, in 2015-2016, over 30 million trees were planted across the country through monthly communal activities common known as ‘Umuganda.’
Rwanda’s total surface covered by forests has risen from 28.8% last year to about 29.3% this year. However, government is targeting 30% of forest cover by 2020.
The Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community, Jesca Eriyo praised Rwanda saying, “I would like to commend Rwanda for leading in the efforts to restore forests and land. Thank you for your leadership.”
Minister Biruta added that Rwanda has recently established Mukura and Gishwati forest reserves parks after their destruction and now being rehabilitated with aim to translate into action “Bonn Challenge’s aspiration”.
He said, “Our policies need to be translated into action and practitioners from all backgrounds must work together and share knowledge.”
Ethiopia pledged 15 million hectares of forests, followed by DRC with 8 million hectares by 2020. In the East African bloc, Kenya committed to plant 5.1 million hectares, Uganda 2.5 million hectares, Rwanda and Burundi 2 million hectares each.
To achieve this, might be an albatross around the neck if private sector is not involved as emphasized by the Ambassador of Germany in Rwanda, Peter Fahrenholtz, “To achieve Bonn Challenge, we need many partners-especially in the private sector.”