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Story Publication logo October 5, 2022

Rwanda: When Charcoal and Firewood Devour the Forests (French)

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A person sweeps the floor using a broom. In the front, there is a pile of charcoal.
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The population pressure in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda is putting a strain on the forests due to the...

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This story excerpt was translated from French. To read the original story in full, visit The Bridge Magazine. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


In the districts of Musanze and Gasabo, in the Northern Province, Rwandans are destroying protected areas, including Nkotsi and Bikara, by cutting down trees to burn charcoal in the forests for firewood.

Augustin Bizimana, one of the residents of Musanze district in Rwanda's Northern province, says that due to the lack of firewood, they are stealing wood from the public forest of Nkotsi and Bikara, protected areas known as "Gihondohondo", a name given in reference to the predominant tree species there, Dracaena steudneri.

To cope with this shortage of cooking energy, we play it smart," says Augustin, "one of us will trick the rangers at night by chatting with them while others steal wood in the Nkotsi protected area.

As payment, we give him a bundle of wood," he added. The fact that there is population growth around these protected areas is one of the major causes of the slow disappearance of these forests, notes our informant. "For us, energy for cooking is a problem," said Augustin.


The RDB (Rwanda Development Board) officer in charge of protecting the Gihondohondo forest, Muhinzi Alphonse. Photo by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

Charcoal sellers in Musanze District. Image by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

Image by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

Image by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

Image by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

Sipridio Nshimiyimana, acting director general of the Rwanda Forestry Agency (RFA). Image by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

The Rondereza method that allows the citizen to save firewood. Image by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

Charcoal seller in Gasabo District, Kigali City. Image by The Bridge Magazine. Rwanda, 2022.

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