Written June 2011
Countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda
The Sustainable Energy Production through Woodlots and Agroforestry in the Albertine Rift (SEW) project, financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rwanda and implemented by IFDC, recognizes and supports the United Nations’ (UN) International Year of Forests, 2011.
According to the UN website, the International Year of Forests, 2011, is intended to convey the theme of “Forests for People” celebrating the central role of people in the sustainable development, management and conservation of the world’s forests. Information provided on the UN site (www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011) regarding the International Year of Forests, 2011, includes:
- Forests cover 31 percent of total land area.
- 1.6 billion people earn their livelihoods from forests.
- 30 percent of forests are used for wood and non-wood products.
- Forests are home to 300 million people around the world.
- Trade in forest products was estimated at US $327 billion in 2004.
- Forests are home to 80 percent of terrestrial biodiversity.
Several of these facts are representative of the SEW project and its focus. SEW complements IFDC’s Catalyze Accelerated Agricultural Intensification for Social and Environmental Stability (CATALIST) project’s food production program by adding two components – private woodlots and agroforestry for energy production at the farm level. SEW promotes sustainable energy production based on reforestation and on professionalization of the fuel wood and charcoal sectors in the Albertine Rift region of Central Africa. Processing and marketing of both agricultural and wood products are handled through value chains with improved efficiencies.
SEW is working to preserve environmental and biodiversity hotspots by reducing pressure on forests. The area under agroforestry is being increased and soil erosion has been reduced. Over the life of the project, more than 40 million tree seedlings will be planted. The aim is to plant 20,000 hectares (ha) of forest and agroforestry trees: 6,660 ha in Burundi; 6,660 ha in Rwanda; 3,350 ha in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) North Kivu province and 3,330 ha in DRC’s South Kivu province by the end of 2011. Reforestation will create favorable conditions for biodiversity conservation and a harmonized management of natural resources.
The CATALIST and SEW projects share the goal of agricultural intensification through the improvement of soil fertility management, product marketing and a decrease in competition between food and energy production.
Charcoal is a main source of fuel for cooking in Burundi, the DRC and Rwanda. Traditional methods of charcoal production are energy-inefficient, resulting in the loss of much of the wood in production while also damaging the environment. Through field training sessions, CATALIST/SEW is introducing improved kilns that increase the amount of charcoal produced while using less wood. The improved kilns create less environmental pollution, generate more fuel-efficient charcoal and provide more income for charcoal producers.
The overall objective of the SEW project is to improve the availability of and access to sustainable energy in the Albertine Rift. IFDC’s SEW project recognizes that forests are vital to the survival and well-being of people everywhere.
Click here to view a documentary on CATALIST/SEW's work.
Organizations supporting the Collaborative Partnership on Forests for the International Year of Forests, 2011, include:
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- Center for International Forestry Research
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- Global Environment Fund
- The International Tropical Timber Organization
- International Union for Conservation of Nature
- The Global Network for Forest Science Cooperation
- United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
- United Nations Development Programme
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- World Agroforesty Centre
- The World Bank
- United Nations Environment Programme