Rwanda launches ambitious forest and landscape restoration initiative to address climate change and improve livelihoods

Kigali, Rwanda | 22 October 2020, Rwanda is launching an ambitious landscape restoration project that will restore the natural forests of Amayaga in Rwanda’s Southern Province and benefit 1.3 million Rwandans. The Green Amayaga Project is a six year initiative that will promote biodiversity, foster ecosystem services, increase agricultural productivity and reduce the vulnerability of people and ecosystems to the adverse effects of climate change. The project will be launched on 23 October 2020 in Nyanza District alongside the first tree planting of Rwanda’s annual Forest Planting Season 2020/21.

The US $32.7m (RWF 31.9b) project is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and is being implemented by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in partnership with the Rwanda Forestry Authority (RFA) and the districts of Kamonyi, Ruhango, Nyanza and Gisagara.

“This ground-breaking project is part of Rwanda’s efforts to increase our resilience to climate change by investing in nature based solutions. When it comes to adapting to the warming of our planet, Mother Nature is our best ally. Restoring forests and landscapes will not only benefit our environment, but also improve the health and livelihoods of Rwandans and create green jobs. We are looking forward to seeing the Amayaga region green once again,” said Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya.

The Green Amayaga project will improve the livelihoods of local communities, increase agricultural productivity and food security, create jobs as well as promote gender equality and expand forest management knowledge. More than 360,000 people will directly benefit from the project, the majority of whom will be women and young people. It will create approximately 150,000 green jobs over six years and provide 60,000 households with improved and energy-efficient cooking stoves and 7,500 households with livestock to improve food security and increase incomes.

Overall, the project will advance the restoration of the degraded forests in the area, the landscape of which covers more than 550 hectares, or 0.14% of Rwanda’s total national natural forests, 10% of the planted forest as well as many patches of remnant forest. The Amayaga region hosts the 354 hectare natural forest of Kibirizi-Muyira as well as the Busoga forest reserves. 1.4 million trees will be planted through the project in the 2020/2021 Forest Planting Season alone.

The Amayaga project is yet another example of the Government and people of Rwanda’s remarkable levels of preparedness and creativity. Restoring biodiversity and landscapes is not just good sense in these extraordinary times, it is imperative. When biodiversity thrives, we all thrive,” said Maxwell Gomera, UNDP Resident Representative. “We have an incredible opportunity to build better economies and stronger societies. UNDP is proud to support and be associated with this project,” he added.

The Green Amayaga project will increase the erosion control and protection of marshlands and buffer zones to foster agriculture productivity. In total, 263,000 hectares of agricultural land will be restored and rehabilitated. Small and large watersheds will also be rehabilitated and restored to provide water for human consumption as well as livestock and agriculture activities. The project will strengthen the resilience of communities and biodiversity and contribute to climate change stabilisation.

“The Global Environment Facility is proud to invest in the Green Amayaga project to secure Rwanda’s unique biodiversity, ensure carbon benefits, and strengthen the resilience and livelihoods of Rwandans through forest landscape restoration. Investing in nature restoration is critical to addressing climate change and supporting sustainable development as we all work to manage the impacts of COVID-19,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.

Learn more about the Green Amayaga project at www.rema.gov.rw and here.

Green Amayaga in Numbers

  • Total project investment: US $32.7m (RWF 31.9b)
    • Government of Rwanda: US $25.5m (RWF 24.8b)
    • Global Environment Facility Grant: US $6.2m (RWF 6b)
    • UNDP Grant: US $1m (RWF 976m)
  • 1.3 million beneficiaries from Gisagara, Nyanza, Kamonyi, and Ruhango districts
  • 362,000 direct beneficiaries
  • 150,000 green jobs to be created
  • 51.3% of the project beneficiaries will be women, and the majority young Rwandans
  • 60,000 households to be provided with improved and energy-efficient cooking stoves
  • 7,500 households to be provided with small livestock
  • 4.7 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoided over the next five years
  • 13 million tons of indirect greenhouse gas emissions avoided over the next 20 years
  • 1.4 million trees to be planted in the 2020/2021 Forest Planting Season
  • 263,000 hectares of degraded forests to be restored
  • 263,000 hectares of agricultural land to be restored and rehabilitated
  • 25,000 hectares of agroforestation including fruit trees with increased productivity
  • 1,000 hectares and plantation forests with increased productivity