Private investors to take over forests in new deal

Saturday March 7 2020

Forest

A deforested area for the charcoal production in the West.Rwanda is in negotiations with five firms to take up forest concessions to spur production of value added wood products that can substitute imports. Photo:Cyril NDEGEYA  

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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The government says it will put up to 80 per cent of forests in the hands of private sector to promote production of value added wood products.

This, the government said, will reduce import bill of timber products. There are already 11 companies including local tea factories with longterm concessional agreements having leased a total of 18,300 hectares for a period ranging between 40 and 49 years.

However, with state forest covering estimated 60,000 hectares as a result of constant tree planting drives and strict control on deforestation, the government indicates there is a need for more private investors with capacity, expertise and innovative technologies to make forest resources more productive to bring down import bill on timber and finished wood products estimated at over $100 million annually.

Rwanda Forestry Authority acting director general Jean Pierre Mugabo told Rwanda Today that while the uptake of state forests management by the private sector had grown to 29.4 per cent, the objective was to put management of 80 per cent of state forests in the hands of investors.

“If negotiations with the new firms that have expressed interest are successful. We hope to reach more than 35 per cent of public forest taken up by investors who can make them more productive and revamp them.

We as the government have resources to do this but we don’t engage in transformation. Therefore even if we can deploy resources where needed we don’t get the adequate returns, ” he said.

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