What is reforestation?

Reforestation is the process of restoring an area that has been affected by tree loss. In collaboration with local communities, Virunga is at the heart of CLIMA Virunga, a vast multi-site reforestation project that aims at replanting native tree species and regenerating overall biodiversity, while also providing employment opportunities and access to sustainable resources.


    Population density
  • 01
    Population density
  • 02
    Extreme poverty
  • 02
    Extreme poverty

    The ongoing humanitarian and security crisis that has been the scourge of North Kivu for more than 25 years perpetuates the extreme poverty in which the majority of the local population live. This impacts efforts to sustainably manage forests and resources within the Park.

  • 03
    Insecurity in the region
  • 03
    Insecurity in the region

    As well as having a negative impact on resource mismanagement, insecurity in the region directly prevents reforestation efforts by impeding access to certain areas of land which have been cleared and would benefit from replanting efforts.


Goals of the reforestation projects:
  • 1.

    Limit the impact of the population occupying the bank of Lake Edward on the Park’s ecological resources.

  • 2.

    Develop a sustainable energy system that does not cause deforestation.

  • 3.

    Promote the socio-economic development of local communities and raise awareness amongst them about reforestation efforts.

  • 4.

    Reduce harmful gas emissions and increase CO2 sequestration to help fight climate change.

  • 5.

    Create essential jobs for the local population in nurseries and in the field to aid reforestation.

What are we doing?

The program is jointly implemented with the support of Flanders, the technical expertise of Meise Botanic Garden, Belgium, and the coordination of Virunga Foundation, as well as strong involvement from local communities, including indigenous people such as Pygmies. As many as 100,000 local people could help contribute toward a significant stabilization of the region around Virunga National Park, with the target of replanting 1,500 hectares of land.

Key Statistics

  • 37 local associations involved in the CLIMA Virunga project

  • 12 nurseries (4 belonging to the Parc and 8 to villages)

  • 22,000 trees planted

  • 19 tree species to be planted

  • 20,000 local people positively impacted by the project as whole

Bukima, Mikeno Sector

In March 2021, Virunga began the restoration of 60 hectares of abandoned former agricultural land in the Mikeno sector. Only recently acquired by the Park, the site offers a real challenge; despite having been used for agriculture, the land is situated high in the mountains at an altitude of 7,500 ft (2,300 m) and spans various difficult-to-access ridges, rocks, and slopes. There is also serious soil degradation to contend with, caused by intensive exploitation through farming.

Forest restoration, in this particular case, is essential for reversing the process of soil degradation, restoring the ecological functionality of the land, ensuring environmental protection, and improving rural livelihoods through the various timber and non-timber forest products that will be available to local communities once the land has recovered and become productive.

Rumangabo, Kisigari Sector

The reforestation project around Rumangabo, the site of the Park’s headquarters, has a dual aim. 

  • Creation of a community forest: restoration of degraded lands through the planting of native tree species presents an opportunity to develop a conservation strategy with the input of local communities and test the effectiveness of the conservancy model that is agreed upon.
  • Sustainable firewood production: a reliable and continuous source of firewood in the buffer zone around Rumangabo would reduce population pressure on the forest and help develop a sustainable energy system for the benefit of local communities.

Tchegera, Lake Kivu Sector

The small island of Tchegera, situated in the North of Lake Kivu, is around a 20-minute boat journey from Goma, North Kivu’s capital, and has almost 11 hectares of land. Although it belongs to Virunga National Park, it was illegally occupied for agriculture and livestock farming until 2013, with disastrous effects on flora and biodiversity. In 2014, the Park was finally able to seize control of the island, with efforts to restore natural vegetation and ecology underway since 2017.

Work to prepare the site for the planting of trees and shrubs is ongoing. Among the most important activities planned for the future months are the eradication of exotic species, especially eucalyptus and invasive lianas; the installation of a small nursery for the production of seedlings; and the creation of access paths leading to different areas of the island.

Photo credit: Bobby Neptune

The project aims to reforest 1,500 hectares in collaboration with the local populations living nearby the Park to combat global warming and deforestation. Thus, we will gradually restore the Park's natural habitats and preserve its rich biodiversity.⁠ ⁠ I am happy with the synergy and dynamic that exist between the CLIMA Virunga project team, the cooperatives, and the agronomists.

Charlotte Agronomist for CLIMA Virunga

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