The Rwandan Government sought to balance the potential economic benefit of such projects with protection of these ecologically delicate zones by developing a set of rigorous management guidelines.
The Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) had specified a 50 m buffer zone around all lakes in the country. SMEC was then engaged by REMA to conduct a study that would inform the development of guidance for sustainable lakeshore management.
Our teams analysed lakeshore land use, including detailed mapping and GIS analyses; collected field data, consulted with community groups, identified zones of ecological sensitivity and erosion risk, and assessed potential environmental impacts and associated mitigation measures. Based on the research and data, we established clear guidelines and regulatory recommendations for the sustainable management of the lakeshore buffer zones for Lakes Burera, Kivu, Mugesera, Muhazi and Rweru.
The study also uncovered ways the buffer zone framework could support the sustainable use and modification of the lakeshores while still ensuring these zones are protected.
This unique project will ultimately impact a large proportion of communities in Rwanda, as the intention is for the guidelines and recommendations developed from this study to be applied to all 23 lakes in Rwanda. Our recommendations will help preserve and enhance the affected zones’ ecological and economic integrity.
Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA)