FORESTS cover 24.5 per cent of the country's land surface, the Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi said yesterday. The government has a target of 30 per cent by 2017.
He was addressing journalists during the ministry's Public Accountability Day.
He said that the forests covered 20.02 per cent in 2006 and the increase is down thanks to the amendment of the law regulating the harvest of forests.
"The law regulating tree harvesting was amended and the forests policy was also amended," Kamanzi said.
In order to increase forest cover, the ministry also adopted agro-forestry policy.
According to Kamanzi, task forces at the district level were put in place to spearhead the planning and planting of trees.
"We also plan to have long term contracts with entrepreneurs to increase the survival rate," he said.
To reduce felling of trees for cooking and construction, the government is encouraging use of peat energy and biogas in schools and other institutions.
During the Accountability Day, environmental friendly products were showcased.
Télesphore Rubonezangabo, an engineer attached to Entrprise pour la Protection de l'Environment et Development Rural, operating in Gikondo, said they make dustbins and tubing which are environmental friendly.
"Our products are good and environmental friendly, we sell them to various hospitals around the country and to big companies," said Rubonezangabo.
The Director General of Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), Rose Mukankomeje, said the association is striving to protect environment but still has much to do.
"We want to hire an independent firm to find out whether their products are really environmentally friendly but we appreciate the way they are working. We need to encourage them," said Mukankomeje.
The Public Accountability Day was held under the theme "Protecting the environment through rational use of Natural Recourses for sustainable development."