Visit to Cyamudongo forest with the winners of the drawing competition

The winners of the drawing competition, held during the International Day of Forests, were invited to visit Cyamudongo forest. During the walk through the forest, details about the plants and animals of the forest were explained. That way the pupils also learned more about the principles of biodiversity and forest protection. One of the highlights of the visit was a chance encounter with a troop of chimpanzees. The participants were delighted to observe the animals, which they already heard so much about, up close. The pupils and the accompanying teachers highly appreciated the visit to the forest. Even though they live close by, for many it was the first trip to the forest. One important take-home message was that in order to maintain the balance of the forest, all living beings must be respected. To complete the trip, the participants were told that they are now important ambassadors for the forest, since by sharing their experiences with others they can contribute to the protection of the forest. The trip was organized by Cyamudongo project in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Winners of the competition

The winners of the drawing competition were invited to a guided tour to Cyamudongo forest.

Guided walk through Cyamudongo forest

For many of the participants this was their first visit to the forest.

Encounter with a troop of chimpanzees

One of the highlights of the visit was the opportunity to observe some chimpanzees up close.

Selected drawing entered in the competition

One of the winning drawings entered during the competition on the International Day of Forests.


Invasive plant removal in Cyamudongo forest

Solanum chrysotrichum, also called giant devil’s fig, is a shrub that grows 2-4 m tall. The plant reproduces mainly by seeds, which are dispersed by birds and other animals that eat the ripe fruits. The plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala, but was naturalized in Eastern Congo and Rwanda. Lacking natural controls outside of its native range, it invades the margins and disturbed areas of rainforests and threatens the forest ecosystem. During regular monitoring surveys, the spread of the species was detected. Therefore, over a period of 4 weeks, intensive removal efforts were made to prevent the further spread of this invasive plant species in Cyamudongo forest. Based on the results of the removal efforts, a guideline for the management of Solanum chrysotrichum will be developed. The work is carried out in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

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Solanum removalSolanum chrysotrichum grows in disturbed areas such as along forest trails and paths.

Solanum removalIndividuals of Solanum chrysotrichum are removed by cutting the base of their stems using a machete.



Celebrating the International Day of Forests

The Cyamudongo-Project and Groupe Scolaire Nkungu held an event to celebrate the International Day of Forests with its focus on “Forests and Education”. The school director opened the event, which was also attended by the Chief Warden of Nyungwe National Park, the Head Ranger of Cyamudongo forest and the Executive Secretary of Nkungu Sector. The dance and singing group of the school performed inspiring songs about the protection of forests. One of the messages shared was that for each tree removed two trees should be planted. Moreover, members of the Environmental Club performed an engaging theater play about the International Forest Day and the importance of raising awareness of the benefits of natural forests. After the performance, the Chief Warden addressed the pupils pointing out the importance of Cyamudongo forest for the water cycle and the prevention of soil erosion. Afterwards, about 400 trees were planted on the school grounds with members of the Environmental Club. The Cyamudongo-Project also organized a drawing competition. In addition to the members of the Environmental Club of Groupe Scolaire Nkungu, pupils from Groupe Scolaire Nyamubembe and Groupe Scolaire Gatare were asked to make drawings to show why and how forests are important to them and their community. The best entries from each class will be selected and the winners will be invited to a tour to Cyamudongo forest guided by Cyamudongo-Project. Further information on the International Day of Forests can be found here.

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Opening of the event

The director of Groupe Scolaire Nkungu opens the event celebrating the International Day of Forests.

Pupils with tree seedlings

The pupils specify various benefits of forests such as the supply of oxygen and the purification of water.

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Performance by pupils

Songs, dances and a theater play performed by the pupils provide for a lively event.

Planting trees on school grounds

The Chief Warden of Nyungwe National Park and one of the pupils plant a tree together on the school grounds.


Meeting held by RWFA’s Tree Seed Unit

The meeting was held by the Tree Seed Unit of the Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA) in Kigali with the funding institutions and stakeholders of the National Tree Seed Center, which has the mission of centralizing the supply of tree seeds. Siegmar Seidel, the managing project director of the Cyamudongo-Project gave a presentation on the aim and target of the project in fostering the National Forest Policy and in strengthening the efforts in increasing the diversity of tree species in Rwanda by building capacities in sustainable management at the National Tree Seed Centre and its affiliated institutions. Further information about this event in Rwanda can be found here and here.


Study tour to Cyamudongo forest for students of the University of Rwanda and the Integrated Polytechnic Regional College Kitabi

During the first day of the study tour, a short presentation of the project and an introduction to the biodiversity of Cyamudongo forest and the relationship between agroforestry and soil conservation was given. This was followed by an animated discussion on a variety of topics, such as the way in which the project activities are implemented and the level of acceptance of the project by the local population. The following day, the students first visited Cyamudongo forest, where they were introduced to different plant species. Afterwards, the group visited one of the project’s tree nurseries and learned more about the various steps involved in the production of tree seedlings from the tree nursery manager. During the last day of the study tour, the students discussed various questions in small groups such as on how to increase the awareness and the self-responsibility for nature conservation. Subsequently, the major points and conclusions were presented to the whole group and productive discussions ensued.

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Field trip to the forest

The students were very interested and asked many questions about the plant diversity of Cyamudongo forest.

 Small group discussion

During group work the students had the opportunity to exchange their views on conservation related topics.


Study tour/workshop at Cyamudongo forest for staff of the project partners    

After working intensively for two years on creating an agroforestry buffer zone around Cyamudongo forest, a second study tour/workshop at Cyamudongo forest was organised for representatives of the two main partners, the Rwanda Water and Forest Authority (RWFA) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). After a short introductory presentation on the progress of the project, further questions were discussed, such as on the project’s experience with seed germination and the survival rate of the seedlings in the field as well as the farmers’ perception of agroforestry practices. During a field visit, Professor Fischer gave an introduction to the biodiversity of Cyamudongo forest. Moreover, the participants visited one of the project’s planting sites, where they learned more about how the selection of planting sites, the trainings of farmers and the planting of trees are organised. During a debriefing session moderated by the managing project director Siegmar Seidel, topics such as the cooperation with local authorities, the long-term sustainability of the project, the seed productions of indigenous trees, as well as the management of the buffer zone of Cyamudongo forest were discussed.

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Field trip to the forest

Professor Fischer, botanist from the University of Koblenz-Landau, shared his knowledge on the plant diversity of Cyamudongo with the participants of the field trip.

Farmers' training

The participants had the chance to join a farmers’ training on agroforestry techniques conducted by the project agronomists.


Field trip to the agroforestry research plots of the University of Koblenz-Landau in Butare/Huye

The project organised a field trip for representatives of local authorities of the project region at village, cell, sector and district level. The agroforestry research plots of the University of Koblenz-Landau, the National Tree Seed Centre and the Arboretum in Butare/Huye were visited. The aim of the study trip was to deepen the understanding of the establishment and maintenance of agroforestry systems as well as their benefits and long-term effects. In addition, the study trip provided an opportunity for exchange and discussion on the implemented and upcoming activities, as well as on how to facilitate the guidance and support of farmers in the long term.

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Agroforestry research plots

The participants of the field trip visited the 30-year-old agroforestry system in Butare/Huye where the goals of the project could be vividly conveyed.

Study trip discussion session

The field trip also provided for ample occasions for the exchange of ideas and experiences amongst the participants.


The third tree planting season to protect Cyamudongo forest launched with a speech by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry

The launch of third tree planting season of the Cyamudongo project was joined by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry, the Director of the Tree Planting Unit of Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority and the Mayor of Rusizi District. The ceremony was attended by farmers who receive tree seedlings to plant on their fields and have been trained by the project in agroforestry, tree planting and tree maintenance. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry emphasized the importance of the close cooperation between the project and the local population to conserve Cyamudongo forest. Further information about this event in Rwanda can be found on the page of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry and in the local news.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry

Mr Jean Claude Musabyimana, permanent secretary of MINILAF, addresses the local residents.

Mayor of Rusizi district

The mayor of Rusizi districts and a local farmer plant a tree seedling together.

Delegation at the field station of Cyamudongo project

After the activities in the field, the delegation met at the field station of the project for further discussions.


Route of corridor path between Cyamudongo and Nyungwe forests decided during stakeholder meeting

The stakeholder meeting took place in Higiro cell office in Nyamasheke district. After a short presentation of the project, an introduction on the topic of landscape connectivity was given. Subsequently, the characteristics of the proposed agroforestry corridor as well as alternative corridor routes were discussed. The route with less eucalyptus plantations in the corridor's perimeter, a larger distance to residential sites and a shorter total length was favored by the participants of the meeting. It was pointed out that it is crucial that the local community develops ownership to ensure the sustainability of the corridor. The approach of the project to involve the local population has proved successful so far, as demonstrated by the high level of interest and participation of farmers in project activities in Rusizi district.

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Stakeholder meeting at Higiro cell office

Representatives of the general public, of Nyungwe National Park and authorities at district and sector level joined the discussions on the characteristics and the route of the planned agroforestry corridor.

Participants of the stakeholder meeting

The participants of the meeting are looking forward to the implementation of the activities leading to the establishment of the agroforestry corridor.


Evaluation of farmers trained in the project with regard to the application of agroforestry techniques

The aim of the evaluation was to obtain information on the number of seedlings that have survived after planting in the fields, on problems encountered after planting and on the  measures taken by the farmers to maintain the young trees. To this end, fields of 10% of the farmers who received tree saplings during the project's first planting season in autumn 2017 were visited for evaluation. The majority of the young trees have survived and will constitute an important component of the agroforestry buffer zone to be established around Cyamudongo forest. The high survival rate is due, amongst other factors, to the measures taken by the farmers to care for the young trees. These measures include activities such as weeding and the use of compost or fertilizers. 2 Column Layout

Evaluation farmers' fields

Farmers participating in the project activities were interviewed and their fields visited by the project staff for evaluation purposes.

Established agroforestry tree

The young trees planted during the planting season in autumn 2017 have already grown to a considerable size.


The environmental ministers of Rhineland-Palatinate and of Rwanda visited Cyamudongo project

A delegation headed by the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister for the Environment, Ulrike Höfken, and the Rwandan Minister of Environment, Dr. Vincent Biruta, visited the field office of the project and Cyamudongo forest with the aim to learn more about the project, its activities and achievements. After a presentation of the project by the director of the project, Mr. Siegmar Seidel, a visit to one of the project’s tree nurseries took place.  Furthermore, in the area of Gaseke cell/Nyakabuye sector some planting sites were visited where agroforestry systems were established during the planting season in autumn 2017. Thereafter, an excursion to the forest took place during which Prof. Fischer of the University Koblenz-Landau presented some characteristic and unique plant species of Cyamudongo forest. Further information about the delegation visit can be found in the local news.
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Visit of tree nursery

The delegation visited one of the tree nurseries run by the project to see where the tree seedlings are produced.

Visit of agroforestry plots

After visiting the tree nursery the delegation headed to the farmers' fields, where agroforestry systems were established during the planting season autumn 2017.

Field trip to the forest

A field trip to the Cyamudongo forest with its unique biodiversity completed the visit by the delegation.


Delegation headed by the minister of Lands and Forestry visited the agroforestry experimental plots in Ruhande, Rwanda

Minister Francine Tumushime and her counterpart Minister Ulrike Höfken from Rhineland-Palatinate visited the agroforestry experimental plots of the University of Koblenz-Landau at Ruhande/Butare, Huye. The experimental plots were established to investigate how soil erosion can be reduced effectively. The results of two decades of research provide the basis for the agroforestry projects implemented by the University of Koblenz-Landau in Rwanda.  Also the tree seed center and arboretum of Ruhande were toured. The aim was to discuss the provision of high quality tree propagation material. 

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Ministers Francine Tumushime and Ulrike Höfken

Delegation visit to the agroforestry experimental plots of the University Koblenz-Landau in Rwanda.

Agroforestry experimental plots

The agroforestry experimental plots exemplify the integration of agriculture and forestry to establish sustainable land-use systems.


Trees for schools in the project region

After a short introduction to the Cyamudongo project, tree seedlings were planted together with pupils on the school grounds of Group Scolaire Albert Le Grand Gatare and Groupe Scolaire Nyamubembe. The pupils were previously taught by project staff about the importance of forests and the interrelation between agriculture, erosion and agroforestry. The lessons have been well received by pupils and teachers alike. Since pupils are important additional multipliers of the project idea, further schools will be included in the project activities during the duration of the project.

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Planting trees on school ground

Pupils participate in the planting of tree saplings on their school grounds.

School lessons

The vivid demonstrations during the school lessons left lasting impressions.


The Cyamudongo project planted its first trees to establish agroforesty systems

The first trees that the project has grown in its tree nurseries were planted on 28.09.2017 in Gaseke cell/Nyakabuye sector. Further trees will be planted troughtout the rainy season. In preparation of the project's first planting season, the project team was engaged in a wide array of activities. Tree nurseries were constructed, tree saplings were produced in ample quantities, village meetings were held to inform local residents about the upcoming project activities and trainings were conducted on agroforestry related topics for interested farmers. From now until 2021, the project is planting trees during both biannual rainy seasons to establish sustainable agroforestry systems together with local farmers to contribute to the conservation and protection of Cyamudongo forest. 

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Visiting farmers' fields

The project agronomists visit the fields of the farmers and advise the land owners on-site regarding the selection of the tree saplings.

Transporting tree saplings

Assistants transport the tree saplings from the tree nursery to the plant distribution point and thus ensure a continuous supply for planting.

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Farmer receiving tree saplings

Farmers receive the seedlings at the plant distribution point. Interns are responsible for record taking during the planting activities.

Support from planting assistants

The farmers receive support by trained planting assistants in the establishment of their agroforestry systems.

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Protecting seedlings

The knowledge and skills acquired during the farmers' training for the protection and care of the young trees are put into practice.

Farmer with tree saplings

A farmer proudly presents the tree saplings he has just received for his field.


First round of farmers' trainings in preparation for the project's first planting season completed

Between August and September trainings were offered for interested farmers on the subject of agroforestry. The first training unit covered the topics soil erosion, agroforestry land-use systems and the properties of agroforestry tree species. The second training unit included more specifically details on tree and hedgerow planting and maintenance as well a compost preparation. Participation in both training units offered by the project is a prerequisite for receiving tree saplings in the coming planting season. Through the training, the project promotes knowledge about agroforestry species, guarantees the correct planting and aftercare of the young trees and increases the acceptance for local tree species. More than 1.200 local farmers who own land in the surroundings of Cyamudongo forest were trained during the first round of trainings. The project aims to train more than 9.000 farmers until 2021.
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Soil erosion demonstration

The topic of soil erosion is introduced using an experimental setup that illustrates the problem in a comprehensible way.

Learning about agroforestry tree species

During the farmers' trainings, the participants have the opportunity to share their knowledge about agroforestry tree species.


Study tour to Cyamudongo forest attented by staff of the project partners    

Staff of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA) and the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management (KCEEM) joined a study tour to Cyamudongo forest and a concluding workshop. After an introduction to the project, the  Cyamudongo forest was visited to learn more about its biodiversity. Subsequently, the  plan  to  connect  Cyamudongo  and  Nyungwe  forests  through  an  agroforestry corridor was discussed and the planning process initiated. During group work, ideas on how to raise awareness of the conservation status of Cyamudongo forest in the local community were reviewed.  

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Study tour to Cyamudongo forest

The study tour offers the opportunity to learn more about the special features of Cyamudongo forest.

Workshop discussion session

The participants of the workshop present the results of their group work to the other attendees.


Park rangers learn more about the biodiversity of Cyamudongo forest through tailored training units

In March, rangers of Nyungwe National Park participated in training units offered by the Cyamudongo project on Phytodiversity, Zoodiversity and Methods of rapid biodiversity assessment and disturbances. Each training unit lasted three to four days and was attented by ten participants.  The active learning experience, which resulted from the integration of theory and practice, was appreciated by the participants. The trainings will be repeated throughout the duration of the project with the aim of improving the identification and monitoring skills of the participants by conveying a sound knowledge of key characteristics of plant and animal taxa as well as of a variety of monitoring parameters such as indicator species and species richness.

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Phytodiversity training

The participants learn about key features such as leaf arrangement and floral  symmetry, which are crucial for plant identification.

Zoodiversity training

During a nocturnal field trip the participants have the opportunity to observe amphibians in their natural habitat.

RBA training

Through hands-on activities, the participants learn about the monitoring of environmental change in forest ecosystems.

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