Future challenges for native tree species in Rwanda

On the 6th February 2020, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) in collaboration with the University of Gothenburg (GU) Sweden and the University of Rwanda (UR) conducted a workshop to define the sensitivity of tropical tree species to future climate changes and current variability in environmental conditions by studies of heat, drought and nutrient responses in multi-species plantations at three sites in Rwanda. The sites exhibit large natural variation in precipitation and temperature, and experimental manipulations of water supply (irrigation, rainfall exclusion) as well optimal nutrient supply will be imposed at three sites.

An important and unsolved question in global change ecology is if climate change is pushing tropical trees towards climatic limits beyond which their vitality, growth and survival decline. Tropical forests adapted to a moist and thermally stable climate are suggested to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, but this hypothesis remains poorly evaluated due to data scarcity. To reduce this knowledge gap, a research project on “Tropical Montane Forest in a Warming World” has been established in collaboration between University of Gothenburg (GU), Sweden, University of Rwanda (UR) and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), funded by the Swedish Research council and the knowledge gained within the project will be to guide national efforts to plant more native tree species as well as forest-relevant climate change adaptation in Rwanda.

In the workshop also included research results, experimental design, field visit and the most important outcome is to receive input on future research needs from Rwandan researchers and stakeholders within the fields of climate change, ecology, forestry and agroforestry to guide our future research efforts.