The Ministry of Environment has launched first Private Forest Management Units (PFMUs) to safeguard the individual forests and boost responsibility in forest harvesting.
PFMUs was launched in Fumbwe, Rwamagana District, Eastern Province on January 31 aiming at reducing destruction on private small holder forests and to significantly increase the overall forest resource productivity, sustainability and profitability.
The program it is anticipated to be scaled up nationally.
Sponsored by the Kingdom of Belgium through Rwanda Water and Forestry, the project targets all private smallholder forests in the country.
PFMUs also aims at supporting Landscape Restoration and Watershed Management through forestry Sector Strategic Plan (FSSP).
PFMUs are formed through cooperatives of private small holder forests across the country that protect, plant and manage small holder forests.
Tubungabunge amashyamba Byimana-Birembo cooperative, Rwamagana district, launched Thursday 13, has 78 members with their forest sitting on 28 hectares.
Augustine Bizimana, president of Tubungabunge amashyamba Byimana-Birembo cooperative, said; “we aren’t aiming at harvesting trees only, but also do some projects including; bee keeping and keep our area good for agriculture.”
“Some members didn’t believe in the government idea of forming small holder forests cooperatives, thinking that their land would be confiscated, but it’s clear now we bring together our small forests, protect them but none comes to claim our land titles,” Bizimana said.
At the launch, Dr. Vincent Biruta, minister of environment said; “this program aims at protecting small holder forests by grouping them in cooperatives, the program has started in Rwamagana district, but targeting the whole country.”
Dr.Biruta added that Private Forest Management is a key tool of the Forestry Sector Strategic Plan (FSSP) in support to Landscape Restoration and Watershed Management.
The private forests management unit falls under government strategies to safeguard forests.
In March 2018, the Cabinet approved a new National Forestry Policy (NFP) as well as a 5 years Forestry Sector Strategic Plan (FSSP, 2018-2024).
Others approaches to protect forests include; sustainable management of roadsides/riversides plantations through establishment of community vigilance committees (VGCs) and valuation and sustainable management of trees in crop lands (Agroforestry) using the Farmer Field Schools (FFS) extension approaches.
Dr.Biruta said that, individual forests cover big percentage with 68%, followed by government 27%, Forest Owners Associations (Cooperatives) own 3% while districts forests represent 2%.