World Environment Day 2022
Today is World Environment Day 2022 and we join with businesses and communities around the world to bring attention to the fact that time is running out to bring people and nature back into balance. The campaign invites everyone to celebrate our Earth through collective action to address one or more aspects of the triple planetary emergency: climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, pollution and waste.
The climate is heating up too quickly for people and nature to adapt; habitat loss and other pressures mean an estimated 1 million species are threatened with extinction; and pollution continues to poison our air, land and water. Over 2 billion people still cook on open fires. This is a global crisis, damaging both health and the environment and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.
Our Tubeho Neza project provides clean cookstoves to Rwanda’s rural poor and is tackling both climate change and biodiversity and habitat loss at scale. We have been working in Rwanda for 10 years and by the end of October this year will have provided 1 million stoves. Each stove uses 71% less wood than the traditional 3 stone fires currently used by over 90% of families. A family will use 6 bundles of wood like this every week to cook. The Tubeho Neza stoves cuts this by 71% and requires just small pieces of wood and tinder, not large branches. This means each stove saves 35 tons of carbon emissions over its 10- year life and deforestation caused by the harvesting of forestry for wood fuel is significantly reduced.
On project completion our stoves will be saving 64km2 of forestry annually, that’s an area the size of Manhattan. Last month we visited villages that had received stoves 6 years ago and the recovery in the tree line, now reaching the edge of the village, was dramatic in contrast to the bare hillsides surrounding those villages without access to clean cooking.
A villager pointed out a recent devastating mudslide caused by Rwanda’s heavy rains washing away the soil on the deforested hillside and destroying her crops. These are a frequent occurrence in Rwanda, causing death and injury and damaging homes, livestock, crops and roads every year.
The stoves also mean that local reforestation programmes can succeed as the new plantations will not be encroached on for fuel. These actions are allowing Rwanda’s rich ecosystems and habitats to recover. Critically endangered species that are benefiting include Rwanda’s Mountain Gorillas and the Grey Crowned Cranes and it was exciting to see the abundance of Rwanda’s bird species flourishing.