Rwanda’s forests and woodlands can be classified into four categories: The natural forests of the Congo Nile Ridge comprised with Nyungwe national park Gishwati, and Mukura; The natural forests of theÂ Volcanoes national park; The natural forests in the savannah, the gallery-forest of the Akagera national park and remnants of gallery-forests and savannahs of Bugesera, Gisaka and Umutara; And forest plantations dominated by exotic species (Eucalyptus sp, Pinus sp, Grevillea robusta) and trees scattered on farmlands (agroforestry) and along anti-erosion ditches.
Though the forests offer many opportunities for community development and economic growth, it has some challenges which need to be overcome. The main threats to forests are mainly governance issues, inadequate legal framework and population pressures that result in encroachment and deforestation for settlement, agriculture and grazing land. These activities are likely to impact on forest ecosystem services such as timber provision, fuelwood, regulation of water flow, climate moderation, soil erosion control and fertility.
In 1960, statistics from the Forest Department show that forests were estimated to cover 659,000 ha (ROR 2004). This reflects a loss of approximately 64 per cent of forests in between 1960 and 2007, which is more than 1.3 per cent per year. The rapid increase in population is increasing pressure on forests in terms of encroachment and deforestation.
There are efforts to promote the use of improved technologies in agroforestry. In the context of land scarcity, efforts are being made to develop high performing species that integrate better with crops. Agroforestry techniques are among the solutions that can quickly restore the national landscape which, at present shows the tendency for desertification. It may also be necessary to carry out an inventory of available wood resources in the agroforestry system in order to better plan activities of this specific sub sector.
In order to save the heritage of remnant forests, the ministry in charge of forestry with its partners in environment (REMA, ORTPN, districts and donors) should intervene to carry out an inventory to locate all those forests and develop a management plan to identify priority actions to be implemented for their conservation.