As part of the monthly communal work, commonly known as ‘Umuganda‘, Rwandans were joined by foreign nationals on Saturday in a countrywide exercise to launch the 2023/24 Tree Planting Season, with over 22,000 trees, including 7,000 native ones planted.
At the national level, Umuganda exercise was held in Gashora, Bugesera district and was officiated by the Minister of Local Government, Jean Claude Musabyimana, who was joined by members of the Diplomatic Corps, and citizens to plant trees on 35 hectares.
Historically, under previous governments, Bugesera district was known to be a semi-arid, Tsetse fly-infested area characterised by a harsh environment and long droughts but under the current government, the Eastern Province district has been turned into a habitable green zone, even though it remains work in progress.
Minister Musabyimana said that the main reason of choosing Bugesera district was to add on already existing government efforts to reverse the past history of the area to make it more green and climate-change resilient.
The tree planting season is part of the Ministry of Environment strategy to have every household plant at least three trees during this season.
About 63 million trees are expected to be planted in the 2023/2024 season to add on the current 30% of Rwanda’s forest cover.
Ministry statistics show that forests occupy about 724,695 hectares of the total country land (30.4%) of which 387,425 hectares (53.5%) are plantations, 130,850 hectares (18.1%) are natural mountain rainforests, 161,843 hectares are wooded savannah (22.3%) and 43, 963 hectares are Shrubs (6.1%).
Bugesera residents say that they expect good results from the planted trees because the trees will help them to deal with the droughts that often hit the area with long dry seasons.
“This sector (Gashora) is considered to be a desert area. Now that we have planted trees, we will be able to get rains and reduce the loss of harvest caused by the long dry seasons,” said one resident Jean Damascene Ukirimuto.
Jeanne Mukamurigo, one of the residents, said that the community will play a key role in ensuring the trees grow to serve their purpose.
In Gashora, the trees were planted in the farming fields, to help reduce soil erosion; some trees also have plant nutrients to improve the quality of the soil, and others can be used for firewood but also improve the air quality.
In the City of Kigali, Umuganda was held in all districts, with residents, visitors and officials coming together to plant trees of all kinds in areas considered less covered.
The Vice Mayor in Charge of Urbanisation and Infrastructure, Dr. Merard Mpabwanamaguru, the Gasabo District Executive Administrator, Pauline Umwali together with a delegation of visiting officials from Burkina Faso on a study tour in Rwanda, joined residents of Bweramvura, Jabana Sector, in Gasabo district to plant trees and discuss the importance of environmental conservation.
The Vice Mayor urged residents of the area to plant trees as a way of combating climate change and its effects, and to maintain high levels of sanitation and hygiene not only in their households but also the entire communities.