Rwanda’s Minister of the Environment, Dr. Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya, just revealed the next steps in the country’s race towards zero carbon emissions: the planting of over 43 million trees across the country to help fight desertification.
The tree-planting campaign is set to kick off in October and will last for two months. It aims to highlight the importance of trees and forests and the role they can play in tackling climate change. The announcement was made on Sept. 13 at the launch of the EU’s climate diplomacy in the country.
“The Ministry of Environment reiterates its commitment to keep working with the EU and other accredited development partners in various initiatives aiming at supporting the protection of environment and climate change agenda,” said Dr. Mujawamariya.
Already one of the leading African countries in determining climate action, this new campaign will help put Rwanda on track to reach its target of cutting 38% of carbon emissions by 2030. The minister went on to briefly explain how the country would achieve the feat of planting over 43 million trees.
“Around 31 million seedlings will be freely distributed to the communities and 12 million seedlings are expected to be produced by private operators who will sell them,” she said.
There’s also a plan to get the country’s youth involved in the action with a campaign called “Ambition and Action,” where over 100 trees will be planted in schools and private properties in the course of one week.
Several environmental campaigns around the globe have tree planting at their core, as it is one of the most efficient ways to reduce carbon emissions and to protect biodiversity. Trees naturally capture carbon dioxide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the air to stimulate their growth, making them one of the world’s most valuable resources in the fight against climate change.
In the case of Rwanda and other agriculture-dependent economies, planting and protecting trees is also crucial for job production, food security, and drought mitigation. However, it’s important that there is a considered strategy behind where and how trees are planted, otherwise, they might not have the same beneficial effects. Scientists believe that analyzing the types of trees, and calculating the number of trees needed, as well as planting them in the right places is the key to protecting the environment.
While reforestation is an essential step, it alone will not solve the climate crisis. It needs to be coupled with other environmental protection efforts aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
Overall, Rwanda has committed to restoring 2 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. The country is well-placed to pull off this mission as it most notably reached its 2020 goal of increasing forest coverage by 30% one year early, with most of the benefits being evident in the country’s drought-prone eastern province.
“The achievement has generated considerable impact to Rwanda,” Dr. Mujawamariya told Global Citizen. “Including the fact that greenhouse gas emission removals from forests increased… Desertification was also avoided to a large extent in the eastern province of Rwanda.”
She added: “There was an increase in rainfall in this region, which has contributed to the agricultural productivity in this part of the country thus contributing to food security.”
While this achievement is applaudable, the country has planned to take it one step further in its aim to support the eastern province. Rwanda is focusing climate relief efforts on this region with an investment of $49.6 million into reforestation.