Farm woodlots in rural Rwanda: purposes and determinants

J.D. Ndayambaje, W.J.M. Heijman, G.M.J. Mohren

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Abstract

The development of farm woodlots as an alternative source of livelihood for smallholder farmers in diverse biophysical and socio-economic conditions is a challenging issue in developing countries, such as Rwanda, where the majority of the population relies on subsistence farming. There is a need to understand why and when farmers decide to grow trees and woodlots on their farms. The objective of this study was to analyse the determinants and the purposes that enhance the propensity to grow woodlots in low, medium and high altitude regions of Rwanda. Necessary information for this study came from a survey of 480 households across these regions. The results showed regional variations in the determinants of woodlot farming, demonstrating the importance of not extrapolating the results between regions. Pooled data across regions indicated that age of the householder, number of salaried household members, farm size, travel distance to fuelwood sources and household location in medium forest cover region had positive significant effects on the propensity to grow farm woodlots. In contrast, household location in low forest cover region, ownership of livestock and monthly frequency of purchasing fuelwood were inversely related to the presence of farm woodlots. Many households planted eucalyptus woodlots for economic reasons, not for environmental purposes. Livestock and crop production were more attractive to rural households than woodlot farming. The findings of the study can be used by policymakers and extension services in order to promote sustainable land use practices by focusing on the challenges of competing land uses, farm size, unemployment, dependence on forests for fuelwood supply and subsistence farming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-814
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Volume87
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Keywords

  • central highlands
  • tree
  • agroforestry
  • ethiopia
  • management
  • landscape
  • patterns
  • systems
  • malawi
  • diversity

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