Rwanda Forest Assessment and Management

Project insight 2016: Rwanda

(i) Execution of a National Forest Inventory (NFI)


(ii) Support to the Development of a National Forest Management Plan (NFMP)


(iii) Development of District Forest Management Plans (DFMPs) and Simplified Forest Management Plans (SFMPs) and


(iv) Complementary Study on Charcoal Value Chain in Rwanda

From November 2014 onwards DFS-led consortia supported the Department of Forestry and Nature Conservation (DFNC) of the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) in different aspects of the inventarisation and management of forest and tree resources on national and District level. 4 different Projects were supported by DFS, ensuring the interlinkages of these Projects and the use of synergies of the multitude of activities.

As initial Project-cross-cutting activities and to allow for more detailed inventory results, DFS developed 140 volume equations for Eucalyptus spp. for 5 main agro-bioclimatic zones under two silvicultural regimes (high forest and coppice), as well as 96 volume equations for Eucalyptus spp. and Pinus spp. for three altitudinal regions / elevations. To allow for a future assessment of tree growth, productivity, forest and agroforestry dynamics, Tree Growth Monitoring Systems including Permanent Sample Plots have been established all over the country as well as initially measured and future assessments planned.

Figure: Measuring of one of the harvested 1000+ trees for the development of the in total 236 volume equations (here in Eastern Province)


The National Forest Inventory (NFI) served to fill the knowledge gaps on Rwandan forest resources with reliable and accurate data, these gaps being serious constraints to the preparation of strong policies and efficient planning of interventions and implementation of good management measures in the forest sector in Rwanda. The NFI being implemented for private, State and District forest plantations, shrubland, savannah and agroforestry areas served as major basis for the development of a National Forest Management Plan (NFMP, first in Rwanda) that provides the orientations and long-term / mid-term vision for the management of forest resources in Rwanda, including action plans to be implemented in collaboration with other ministries (action plans on capacity building in forestry sector, on quality tree seed supply and on charcoal value chain improvement, etc.). In parallel, decrees, ministerial orders, etc. were updated in order to ensure their coherence with the NFMP. Specifically, besides the update of the National Forest Policy, the development of the Forest Sector Strategic Plan (as the document presenting the mid-term strategy) was supported by DFS.

Figure: Establishment of Permanent Sample Plots within the National Tree Growth Monitoring System as part of the National Forest Inventory (here in Western Province for Trees Inside Forest plots)



On the practical District implementation level to develop District Forest Management Plans (DFMP), detailed inventories were implemented for 6 Project Districts in Eastern and Northern Province for private, State and District forest plantations (energy wood, service wood and saw timber production), roadside trees, protected forests, shrubland and savannah, agroforestry areas, and river and lakeshores.

Additionally, for each of the approximately 3,200 forest plantations in the Project Districts, individual qualitative and quantitative assessments were carried out as basis for detailed plantation planning and management. All inventories and assessments served as basis for the participatory developed DFMPs, which follow the given Rwandan laws for each tree resource type and include a hands-on District Action Plan as well as a M&E Plan.

Based on estimated plantation management costs and income, financial calculations led to tentative financial balances for each individual forest plantation in 3 different scenarios.  As a result, so-called Forest Management Units (FMUs) were defined for State and District-owned plantation forests, based on economic viability analysis in different scenarios depending on the silvicultural prescriptions for each plantation within the FMU (see exemplary map in following figure for State forest FMU9 and included production forests in Gicumbi District, Rwanda).

Figure: Overview Map of northern part of State FMU9 in Gicumbi District


Each FMU served as basis for detailed so-called Simplified Forest Management Plans (SFMP), which were developed exemplarily for 6 FMUs in each of the Project Districts (first in Rwanda). These SFMPs are the basis for leasing out State and District plantations to private entrepreneurs and give a clear picture of the future potential profitability of each plantation and each FMU for prospective leaseholders.

Figure: Annual estimated financial balance over the 10 years of SFMP duration for State FMU1 in Rulindo District (green: ideal scenario; blue: real world scenario)


For private forest plantations, priority locations for private FMU and Forest Owner Association set-up were proposed.

Besides diverse meetings with RNRA, DFNC, BTC and diverse staff and communities in the Districts, specific capacity development measures have been implemented and training manuals developed for (i) inventories in Trees Inside Forest and Trees Outside Forests, and (ii) Inventory Data Management (GIS and ORDBMS).

Finally, a Charcoal Value Chain Study covered knowledge gaps to efficient charcoal making processes, specifically on efficient carbonization, loading, packaging and transportation, recovery and transformation of charcoal dust, charcoal makers’ cooperatives and associations, taxation procedures and law enforcement, and traceability of charcoal.

Our contribution:

  • 236 new volume equations for Eucalyptus spp. and Pine spp. for different agro-bioclimatic zones, treatment regimes and altitudinal regions in Rwanda;
  • Tree Growth Monitoring Systems developed and set-up for the national level and in detail for 6 Districts in Rwanda;
  • National Forest Inventory Results and interpretations of results for Trees Inside Forests and Trees Outside Forests on national level;
  • An updated National Forest Policy;
  • A national Forest Sector Strategic Plan, presenting mid-term strategy and operational action plans;
  • A National Forest Management Plan, providing orientations and long-term / mid-term vision for the management of forest resources in Rwanda (ongoing);
  • Detailed Inventory results for 6 Project Districts in Eastern and Northern Province for private, State and District-owned forest plantations (energy wood, service wood and saw timber production), roadside trees, protected forests, shrubland and savannah, agroforestry areas, and river and lakeshores and detailed qualitative and quantitative assessments for approximately 3,200 forest plantations;
  • Support to guidelines for the development of DFMPs and SFMPs;
  • 6 exemplary District Forest Management Plans;
  • Establishment of 50+ FMUs for 6 Districts in Rwanda, as well as approach to develop FMU to lease out to private entrepreneurs;
  • Several templates of Memorandum of Understanding for the participatory management of tree resources between RNRA and communities, such as for the participatory management and benefit sharing of roadside, lakeshore or rivershore forests;
  • 6 exemplary Simplified Forest Management Plans;
  • A Charcoal Value Chain Study covering knowledge gaps to efficient charcoal making processes.



Republic of Rwanda.


10/2014 – 12/2016 (4 different Projects, NFMP still running)


National Forest Inventory: 11 months

National Forest Management Plan: 12 months

DFMPs and SFMPs: 19 months

Charcoal Value Chain Study: 4 months


Belgian Development Agency (BTC)


Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), Department of Forestry and Nature Conservation (DFNC)