18 March 2005

Rwanda: Umutara, Kigali-Ngali to Have Bamboo Woodlands

Kigali — After years of suffering from prolonged drought, and lack of forest cover for soil conservation, Umutara and Kigali-Ngali provinces are set to have bamboo woodlands.

The bamboo forest currently found in Volcano National park in the northern part of the country, have multipurpose functions like provision of habitat and food to mountain gorillas, and support to human activities like building, handicrafts and beekeeping.

Speaking to this reporter last week, David Kagoro, the Liaison officer of World Agroforestry Centre (WAC) Rwanda revealed that the planting of bamboo forest in Umutara and Kigali-Ngali provinces, is an attempt to afforest areas with trees that withstand prolonged drought.

Kagoro said that under the request of the Ministry of Lands and Environment, WAC through the National Institute of agriculture and Scientific Research (ISAR) in Butare, has started stimulation of bamboo trees at ISAR for extreme multiplication of more young trees for transplanting in to specified areas of the two provinces.

"As bamboo trees are used for food, construction material, bridges, handicrafts, landscaping and musical instruments, it is better to plant them in areas without forest cover whatsoever, likeUmutara and Kigali-Ngali provinces," he said.

Asked where the WAC gets bamboo buds that are being propagated at ISAR, Kagoro said that few bamboo buds of lower quality are from within Rwanda, but that bamboo buds of better quality that grow to about 40 metres tall are imported from Kenya.

According to ecological experts, these plants are evergreen and show little growth above ground the first year, since roots are rapidly forming underground. They are also very adaptable and survive droughts and other stressful environmental phenomenon.

They also articulate that afforesting of bamboo is easy, because it is tough and adaptable for many soil types and can tolerate dry and wet conditions. Bamboo is also known to be good in recycling oxygen into the atmosphere and has virtually no pests or disease problems.

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