Burundi has three major categories of forests and woodlands – the Albertine Rift Montane Forest, the Central Zambezian Wet Miombo Woodlands, and the Victoria Basin Forest Savannah. The Albertine Rift Montane Forest is largely a tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest, while the Miombo Woodlands and Victoria Basin Forest Savanna are a mix of tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands [1].

Burundi was once rich in natural forests [1], with natural forests covering between 30–50% of the country’s territory [2]. During the civil war that started in 1993, it is estimated that the country lost 30% of its natural forests due to deforestation [3]. Today, forests occupy less than 11% of Burundi’s total land area. According to FAO, in 2020, forests accounted for 10.9% of the total land area, or 2,800 km². Of which, an estimated 1,670 km² was primary forest and 1,130 km² was planted forests [1], [4].

Burundi’s forests provide significant ecosystem services and are culturally important to the country’s local communities. It is estimated that Burundi’s forests provide at least $44.9 per hectare per year in ecosystem services, including the value from hunting and fishing and non-wood forest products, but excluding the value of wood production and the benefits that forests provide to air pollution, water harvesting, improved park quality, increased value of livestock production, and flood reduction [1].

Despite their importance, Burundi’s forests are threatened by deforestation and forest degradation, which will result in the loss in goods and ecosystem services that forest ecosystems would otherwise provide to society. The World Bank (2017) estimated the total annual cost of deforestation in Burundi, in terms of the annual value of lost ecosystem services, at US$3.4 million, equivalent to 0.1% of the country’s 2014 GDP. However, this is likely an underestimation of the cost of deforestation in Burundi, as the calculation did not include the value of lost timber and non-timber forest resources, including the value of lost fuelwood provision [2].


The direct causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the country include uncontrolled harvesting of biological resources, land clearance for agricultural purposes, mining activities, infrastructure development, overgrazing and bush fires [5]. Timber harvest for charcoal, firewood and construction is a leading cause of deforestation, with approximately 90% of the country’s population dependent on charcoal and firewood for cooking and heating [1]. It is estimated that an average Burundi consumes 1.22 m³ of wood and 0.04 m³ of wood furnishings per year [2].

Further, rapid population growth and high levels of poverty in the country are major contributing factors of deforestation, through land use change for agriculture due to the lack of alternative livelihoods, and because of the high dependence of households on fuelwood for energy [1].


Key policies and governance approach

In Burundi, the protection of forests is led by the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture, and Livestock (MINEAGRIE). To manage its forest resources, Burundi has a put in place relevant policies and legislation, including the National Constitution, the Environmental Code (2000), the revised Forest Code (2016), and the National Forest Policy of Burundi (2012), among others [1].

In the Environment Code, Law No. 11-010 of 30 June 2000, Article 69 prohibits any forest exploitation that is not authorized in compliance with a management plan to be approved by the government and/or municipalities, depending on the status of the forest [6].

Law N°1/07 of July 15, 2016 Revising the Forest Code lays down all the special rules governing the administration, development, exploitation, surveillance and policing of forests. At the same time, it sets out several provisions in line with the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources [7], with the principle "who cuts reforests" [5].

Burundi's National Forest Policy (2012) aims to ensure the sustainability of existing forest resources and the development of new resources to meet the socio-economic and ecological needs of present and future populations [1], [7]. It aims to develop and manage forest resources rationally (increase the forest cover rate to 20% by 2025), promote forest resources, and strengthen human and institutional capacities [6]. The document provides general guidelines to enlighten and guide public authorities to regulate the use of wooded areas, properly manage forest resources and enhance all extracted products [7].


Successes and remaining challenges

Mandated to administer and regulate forest management and protection in Burundi, the MINEAGRIE is facing challenges related to a lack of financial resources and a lack of qualified human resources, which greatly impedes the government's ability to enforce forest-related laws and carry out and fulfil policy implementation [1]. For instance, illicit forest use continues in the country’s protected areas, including Kibira National Park [2], [8].

The lack of capacity of MINEAGRIE has also resulted in, among other gaps, little to no monitoring data since the 1980s/1990s [1]. For instance, the latest forest inventory dates back to 1989 [3]. These limitations and gaps need to be addressed in order to improve the country’s understanding of the status of its forests, for planning sustainable forest management and restoration, and conservation activities [1], [9].

Further, the country’s Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) report highlights weaknesses to the country’s implementation of its legal and institutional framework on land degradation, to which deforestation is a major contributor. One of which, is the country’s low involvement in international mechanisms. As an indication, Burundi has not yet received support from the Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) Mechanism [7].


Initiatives and Development Plans

In 2018, Burundi launched a vast national reforestation program to boost the country’s dwindling forest cover, which will run until 2025. Since the start of the campaign four years ago, at least 150 million trees of various species have been planted across the country, over an area of 50,000 hectares. Key civil society stakeholders in nature conservation are calling for these efforts to be followed by awareness-raising campaigns among local populations and communities, to protect seedlings that have already been planted [10].

Further, through the Bonn Challenge and the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, the Government of Burundi has committed to restore 2 million hectares of degraded land and forest by 2030 [7], [11].


[1], [2], [11]

  • Burundi needs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of allocating and spending its limited resources while also securing greater resources for environmental protection and management.
  • Invest in capacity-building activities for environment staff at the Ministry of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock.
  • Strengthen forest governance through the effective implementation of legal and regulatory texts to reduce deforestation.
  • Ensure sufficient human and financial resources are allocated to protected areas.
  • Support local communities in or near protected areas by promoting sustainable livelihoods.
  • Support innovative payment for ecosystem services activities including forestry initiatives, and explore participation in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).
  • Increase availability and quality of education and research initiatives to address existing gaps in available data on forests.
  • Increase accessibility and affordability of alternative energy options to charcoal and wood fuel.
  • Create a national policy on sustainable charcoal use while investing in research and initiatives for scalable alternative-energy sources (e.g., liquefied natural gas, solar, biogas).
  • Evaluate financial and policy incentives that encourage the adoption of energy alternatives or discourage the use of fuelwood.
  • Support reforestation programs at the state and local level with native species.
  • Promote sustainable agroforestry by providing technical assistance, equipment, and inputs and coordinate efforts with education and behaviour-change communications.
  • Forests could offer opportunities to benefit Burundians through ecotourism and sustainable tourism.
  • Implement awareness-raising campaigns among local populations and communities on sustainable forest management and restoration.


[2] World Bank Group. 2017. Burundi Country Environmental Analysis : Understanding the Environment within the Dynamics of a Complex World—Linkages to Fragility, Conflict, and Climate Change. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

[3] FAO (2020). Évaluation des ressources forestières mondiales 2020. Rapport Burundi.

[4] FAO. 2020. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020: Main report. Rome.


[6] Walmsley, B and Hussleman, S, (2020). Handbook on environmental assessment legislation in selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. 4th edition. Pretoria: Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in collaboration with the Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment (SAIEA). Chapter 5: Burundi – DRAFT FOR CONSULTATION.


[8] Inside Burundi (2022). Burundi: When charcoal and firewood consume the forests. [Online]. Available:  

[9] Lesiv, M., Schepaschenko, D., Buchhorn, M. et al. Global forest management data for 2015 at a 100 m resolution. Sci Data 9, 199 (2022).

[10] Dieudonné Ndanezerewe, MONGABAY (2022). In Burundi, one-time combatants who razed forests now raise seedlings. [Online]. Available:

[11] afr100 (2022). BURUNDI. [Online]. Available: