Recovery of the Rugezi Mire


The Rugezi Marsh is a peatland located in the north of Rwanda, to the east of Lake Bulera on the Uganda border. It is at an altitude of approximately 2050 m and in its natural state, this fen forms a dense floating mat on a 7-12 m peat layer in its deeper parts. The marsh plays a major role in the regulation of water flow to Burera and Ruhondo Lakes, which is the main source of hydropower in Rwanda. However, the increased demand for water and electricity for a growing population has resulted in a decrease in the amount of water in Rugezi Marsh. In the 2000’s, the fen was affected by lowering water level and sedimentation. This happened due to degradation over the years caused by a variety of activities, including agricultural practices, draining of the area, fire and over-exploitation of non-timber forest products. Different illegal activities have also been noted, including grass cutting, illegal fishing, and the trade of Grey Crowned Crane chicks. By 2003, almost 56% of the swamp was destroyed by agricultural activities. The northern sector of the mire was particularly degraded by human activity, including agriculture and livestock grazing. Previously covered by papyrus, the area has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Formerly a stronghold for papyrus endemic birds, it is now poor in terms of biological diversity with a lower water table level.

Project Aims

To conserve the habitat, draining and cultivation was prohibited in the most affected areas. A 20-50 m buffer zone was established around the mire consisting of Alnusa cuminata trees and agricultural activities were forbidden in all areas. The Alnus cuminata is native to the American continent and grows well in moist soil environments, such as the Rugezi mire. As well as acting as a buffer, this tree is valued for its wood, which dries easily and preserves well. It is therefore not only durable but easy to work and can be used for fuel wood, construction purposes and day-to-day items such as posts, poles and broom handles.

Restoration Delivered

The Rugezi mire has recovered well in the past 10 years. The water quality from the recovered area has improved remarkably compared to the northern sector still being cultivated, and the hydropower again has a sustained flow of water. The drained sections of the Rugezi fen (the Kamiranzovu and northern parts of the main trunk) are ideal sites for rewetting and other peatland restoration activities. However, the dependency of local communities on cultivation within the marsh, especially the Kamiranzovu section, will make this a daunting task. Future conservation efforts will have to include a strong socio-economic focus in all stages of planning and implementation.


Project Name: Recovery of the Rugezi Mire

Organisation / Lead partner: Rwandan Government

Predominately: Upland

    Cors Caron Copywrite Drew Buckley Photography
    Conference 2022 - Registration openRegistration for this year's IUCN UK Peatland Programme conference taking place live in Aberystwyth…
    Mar Estate © Mark Nicolson
    100 Project Milestone for the Peatland CodeThe Peatland Code now has 100 projects registered under the UK La
    Peatland Code version 1.2
    New version of the Peatland Code launchedAn update to the Peatland Code, including a separate guidance document, is now available.
    IUCN UK Peatland Programme Newsletter: Winter Edition 2022
    IUCN UK Peatland Programme Newsletter: Winter Edition 2022Read the latest IUCN UK Peatland Programme newsletter.
    Peat-free image
    Peat-free Horticulture – A reality and an opportunityWe have reached a key moment for bringing about a transition in the way we garden and supply…
    PC Projects Feb 22
    An update on the Peatland CodeThe Peatland Code continues to grow rapidly with 79 projects now registered and 10,300 ha of…
    The new CNPA Peatland ACTION team
    Unlocking contractor capacity to lock up carbon in the CairngormsThe Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) Peatland ACTION Officers have facilitated over 2,…
    Moors for the Future Partnership: Cleaner water video
    Moors for the Future Partnership presents: Blanket bogs are worth protecting video seriesMoors for the Future Partnership has developed five videos to help people understand the multiple…
    Restoration works at East Gill in Nidderdale
    Yorkshire Peat Partnership celebrates another successful yearAs Yorkshire Peat Partnership (YPP) heads into the new restoration season, they take a moment to…
    The Peatlands of Britain and Ireland: World Wetlands Day
    World Wetlands Day 2022: 'The Peatlands of Britain and Ireland' launched as e-bookTo celebrate World Wetlands Day 2022, 'The Peatlands of Britain and Ireland' by the IUCN UK…
    South West Peatland Partnership vacancies
    South West Peatland Partnership job vacanciesThe South West Peatland Partnership (Exeter, Devon) have 8 job vacancies available to support their…