Dr. Rose Mukankomeje has devoted her life to the protection and restoration of Rwandan forests. As her nation emerged from crisis, and in the face of great personal adversity, Rose took the initiative to bring Rwandans together to protect their natural resources from over exploitation and environmental degradation.
One of her most successful initiatives is public awareness for environmental management, through Umuganda — community work done once a month. It is a unique home grown solution which ensures that the growth of forests in Rwanda supports livelihoods and benefits the rural poor.
Rose also raised attention for the need to protect critical ecosystems like wetlands by encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural techniques. Her work helped to improve the livelihoods of people without compromising Rwanda’s rare and vulnerable ecosystems.
As a lasting legacy of Rose’s achievements in the field of forestry, Rwanda’s National Forest Policy won the 2011 Future Policy Award. Through border-to-border restoration programmes, this policy aims to heal and restore natural resources, creating the basis for a healthy and resilient society of the future.
Rose is a biologist by training and in 1992 received her PhD in the Sciences. She is currently the Director General of the Rwandan Environment Management Authority (REMA). She has also served as Member of Parliament (1995-2001); Director General, Science, Technology & Research, Ministry of Education (2002-03); Vice Chairperson, Centre for Innovation & Technology Transfer; and Vice President, Kigali Institute of Education.
Mr. Paul Nzegha Mzeka
Born and raised in a forest community, Paul N. Mzeka has a deep attachment to forest and trees. He strongly believes this attachment influenced his preference for nature related school subjects throughout his school life, ending in his specialization as a geography teacher.
After teaching for 30 years, Mr. Mzeka retired from the Cameroon Public Service in 1990 and founded an organization called the North West Beefarmers” Association (NOWEBA) which promoted sustainable bee farming as a means of raising awareness in biodiversity conservation in rural communities.
During this period, he was improving his own understanding of the issues at stake in biodiversity conservation by attending workshops and seminars on the environment. In 2000, he and his dedicated team decided to change the name of the organization from NOWEBA to ANCO, the Apiculture and Nature Conservation.
ANCO, in 2004 created a partnership with 3 other NGOs and embarked on conservation integrated with sustainable land management and rural poverty reduction. Their approach received support from the Cameroon Government through the RIGC Project, the Program for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, South West Region and from several international organizations including UNDP (GEF/SGP), HELVETAS the Swiss Development Organization, IUCN Netherlands, the Royal Botanic Gardens UK, the American Global Releaf etc.
Mr. Mzeka and his dedicated team have helped 30 communities to protect their watersheds and conserve 4 community forests including reforesting degraded portions. In the process, a total of 685,000 trees have been planted, the target being to reach a million trees before 2013.