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The afforestation of Kimicanga

The afforestation of Kimicanga

Yesterday, I visited Kimicanga area — or should I say former Kimicanga area? It had been more than a decade since the last time I was there. During my previous visit, almost twelve years ago, I navigated the congested streets of Kimicanga slum.

A lot has changed ever since. Today, the old shanty settlement has been replaced by a forest. The said forest was planted after the expropriation exercise conducted to pave the way for the Kigali City Master Plan.

I had never seen this forest before despite running errands around it on a daily basis. When were these trees planted? How did they grow so fast? I tried to name the types of trees found there in vain. When it comes to the categorization of plant species, I am ignorant, for lack of a better word.

As I strolled around the forest, I found it hard to believe I was in the middle of Kigali City. There is a trail slashing through the forest, serving as a shortcut for those who walk from Kacyiru and Kimihurura to Kiyovu and Muhima or vice versa. I am not sure this trail is part of the master plan but I didn’t see any signpost preventing pedestrians from using it.

I entered the forest through the road to Ecole La Colombière. Before doing so, I spoke to a gentleman namely Flugence Niyitegeka, the owner of a company known as Natural Resources Management.

Niyitegeka is in the business of selling tender trees. He runs a nursery adjacent to the forest planted by the city. The Kigali-based entrepreneur specializes in forestry, agriculture and gardening. His products are creating new forests across the country while painting Rwandan cities green. His nursery is the source of most of those trees embellishing the median strips of Kigali roads.

A cluster of bamboo trees separates the aforementioned nursery from the forest I rambled in. The bamboo segment is grown by two cooperatives and one individual who wasn’t around when I showed up. Bamboo trees are used for construction, interior design and production of a wide range of products.

Before I left the area, I learned how to identify and distinguish different plants, courtesy of the founder of Natural Resources Management. Next time I go to the woods, I will be able to name a few trees.

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