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Rwanda: Rwanda environment Sector Profile 2012






Rwanda Environment Profile 2012

Rwanda is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in Africa, and its land is intensively farmed. About 92 percent (1990) of the Rwandan workforce is involved in agriculture. Soil exhaustion and overgrazing are leading to desertification throughout the country.

Forests cover about 12.5 percent (2000) of Rwanda. Although Rwandans rely on traditional fuels such as firewood for about 88 percent (1997) of their energy, the country’s forests have been preserved through reforestation efforts.

Rwanda has designated 14.7 percent (1997) of its land as protected area. Rwanda has ratified international agreements protecting biodiversity and endangered species. It has also signed international agreements limiting chemical and biological weapons and trade involving endangered species. Rwanda is party to the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and participates in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program.

Ecoregions are areas that: [1] share a large majority of their species and ecological dynamics; [2] share similar environmental conditions; and, [3] interact ecologically in ways that are critical for their long-term persistence. Scientists at the <!-- Create this article: World Wildlife Fund -->World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have established a classification system that divides the world in 867 terrestrial ecoregions, 426 freshwater ecoregions and 229 marine ecoregions that reflect the distribution of a broad range of <!--Add this page: fauna-->fauna and <!--Add this page: flora-->flora across the entire planet.

The following WWF terrestrial ecoregions are found in Rwanda.

  1. <!--Add this page: Victoria Basin forest-savanna mosaic--> Victoria Basin forest-savanna mosaic (AT0721) covers much of Rwanda spreading east from Lake Victoria. The ecoregion is most noted for its high species diversity and endemism resulting from the mixture of habitat types and species from both western and eastern Africa. Add the scattered wetland habitat, and you get an abundance of animals representing different habitat types. These include more than 310 species of trees and shrubs, 280 species of birds, 220 species of butterflies, and 100 species of moths. The tropical moist climate here has two rainy seasons--one in April and May and another in October and November. These help replenish the waters for the many wetland areas of the ecoregion.

  2. Albertine Rift montane forests (AT0101) covers the western part of Rwanda. It is an area of exceptional faunal and moderate floral <!--Add this page: endemism-->endemism. These <!-- Create this article: mountains -->mountains also support the <!--Add this page: Mountain gorilla-->Mountain gorilla, which is one of the most charismatic flagship species in <!--Add this page: Africa-->Africa, and an effective target for much of the current <!--Add this page: conservation-->conservation investment in the area. The area straddles the borders of five different nations, making effective ecoregional conservation a challenge in the area. Although there are a number of National Parks and Forest Reserves in the area, the recent wars have made their management difficult over much of the ecoregion. Additional threats include conversion of most <!-- Create this article: forest -->forest areas outside reserves into farmland, together with <!--Add this page: logging-->logging, firewood collection, and bushmeat hunting within the remaining forest areas.

  3. <!--Add this page: Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands--> Ruwenzori-Virunga montane moorlands (AT1013) occur mostly above 9,800 feet (3,000 m) in two areas atop the Ruwenzori and Virunga mountains. The first on the <!--Add this page: Urganda-->Urganda/DRC border and the second in the area where Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC all joint. Habitat types include lakes at various altitudes, marshy deltas and peat bogs, open montane grasslands, areas of scrub, patches of high elevation forest, glaciers, and even snow fields. It include habitat for the vulnerable mountain gorilla, the Ruwenzori-Virunga Montane Moorlands contain two World Heritage Sites--areas set aside for protection by international treaties.