Preferred by Nature delivered a 3-day workshop to build the capacity of Rwanda’s timber actors on timber legality and certifications. The training program was developed to introduce the concept of timber legality and certifications to Rwanda’s timber actors, including furniture and construction companies, trade industry associations, and public administration officials. The workshop wanted to improve the participants' knowledge of sustainable forest management and create a better understanding of the role of certifications and timber legality verifications in fulfilling global demands on sustainable timber.
According to Rwanda’s Ministry of Environment (2019), forests occupy an estimate of 724,695 hectares or 27% percent of the country’s total land area. With this potential, Rwanda’s government has established a set of forestry policy that aims, among others, to improve the economy by encouraging investments in the forestry sector (Rwanda’s 3rd National Communication to the UNFCCC, 2018). The goal is to create more employment and improve people’s livelihood, thus reducing poverty through sustainable use, conservation, and management of the forest.
Based on World Bank data (2018), agriculture, forest, and fisheries contribute 2,372.95 million USD or approximately 24.6% of Rwanda’s total GDP. However, only 83,000 USD came from timber exports, with market coverage limited to a few neighbouring countries (Chatham House). This data shows that entering a broader market of international timber trade remains a challenge for timber actors in Rwanda, and there is a need to strengthen their capacity in managing a more sustainable timber business and achieving global market competitiveness.
This training program was funded by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and was delivered by Preferred by Nature with the aim to promote sustainable timber productions and trade, and at the same time improving Rwanda’s economy by strengthening competitiveness in the domestic and international timber market. Specifically, the objectives of this training were:
- To improve stakeholders knowledge on timber legality and certification
- To discuss issues around the topics and how it relates to international market demands on sustainable timber
- To introduce quality management systems in timber legality verification
The participants of this training included, but were not limited to:
- Key staff from private timber sector operators in Rwanda, including furniture and construction companies and representatives from relevant trade industry associations
- Public administration officials working with forestry, timber, trade, and other relevant sectors, such as Rwanda Forest Authority, Ministry of Commerce, Rwanda Standard Board, Rwanda Development Board, etc.