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When talking about the impact of tree planting on climate change in Rwanda’s case, my best example is the areas of Umutara and Bugesera in the Eastern Province. Following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, as the Government of Rwanda tried to resettle returnees and the internally displaced, there was a lot of pressure on the environment as people were resettled and agricultural activities started.

Due to its proximity to the City of Kigali, Bugesera District was a source of food and fuel wood (charcoal) to the Capital.

As such, massive deforestation took place as trees were burnt for charcoal which led to loss or change in rainfall patterns and the enormous drought and famine affecting the area. In 2000 during the resettling of people and the effects of deforestation, the Government of Rwanda through its labour intensive public works programme started a massive parallel campaign to plant trees in order to try and fight the drought and famine problem.

About 2.9 million trees were planted in Bugesera alone. Currently Bugesera District has recovered with a considerable amount of rainfall, is now food secure and a key supplier of food to the City of Kigali.

Interestingly, Umutara and Bugesera, after the intensive tree planting campaign, now receive more rainfall, have better average temperatures, and are performing much better in terms of agricultural production and food security.

I hope these tree planting campaigns continue not only in Rwanda but in the world as a whole, as there is clear evidence of vegetation contributing to combating climate change through reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by locking up carbon in its growing tissue. So why not plant more?

Let me conclude by clearly affirming that “Life is better with trees, so let’s plant more” in order to try and combat climate change for a better world to live in. The longer countries wait to act on climate change causes, the more it will cost them and the worse its effects will be.

“Global warming is too serious for the world any longer to ignore its danger or split into opposing factions on it,” said Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister.

I encourage each one of us to “talk the walk” and “walk the talk” on global warming and climate change.

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