Recovery of the Rugezi Mire

Description

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.

{"zoom":4,"lat":-7.5398982,"lon":30.1829464,"markers":{"0":{"lat":-1.44871961,"lon":29.82300751}}}

Project Name: Recovery of the Rugezi Mire

Organisation / Lead partner: Rwandan Government

Predominately: Upland

Join our team
We are recruiting - closing date 19th August 2020  We are recruiting for a Peatland Code Co-ordinator and a Communications Officer…
Sustainably sourced Sphagnum growing, harvested to produce dried Sphagnum (BeadaGro™) and mixed with other peat-free products to create a sustainable growing media.
Peat-free products - protecting peatlands, climate, gardening, pot-plants & salad.   By Jacqueline Wright, Business Development Manager, Beadamoss®
Sphagnum moss harvesting at trial site, Greifswald Mire Centre © Tobias Dahms
Wet agriculture - a tool in the climate action toolboxWith the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions wherever possible, complimenting traditional…
Money for peatland restoration
Budget announcements for UK peatland restoration Peatlands received a welcome funding boost in the UK Budget 2020.  In a move to support the…
Peatlands in the EU post CAP
Peatlands in the UK beyond Common Agriculture Policy (CAP)The IUCN UK Peatland Programme continues to feed into the international peatland agenda, recently…
Afforested peatland restoration at Forsinard  © Neil Cowie/RSPB
Peatland & Trees position statement releasedThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have released a position statement and recommendations on Trees on…
Caithness Wildfire, 2019 © Paul Turner
Burning & Peatlands Position StatementThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have updated our position statement on Burning and Peatlands which…