Journal of Forestry Research

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 561–570 | Cite as

Heritage trees and landscape design in urban areas of Rwanda

  • Jean Leonard SeburangaEmail author
  • Qixiang Zhang
Original Paper


Trees play a key role in neighborhood landscapes, a belief that has been widely held for millennia in areas beyond Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, awareness of modern landscape architecture was almost absent in Rwanda until the late 20th century. Today, houses with surrounding decorative and amenity plants are a common feature in Rwanda’s neighborhood landscapes and, as the villagization of settlements progresses, new kinds of landscapes are emerging. This paper explores neighborhood tree planting around human settlements in the country. Remote sensing, photogrammetry, photo interpretation, and plant surveys were the core methods used. The average tree cover fraction ranged between 10%–35%. As the result of what is hereafter referred to as the “luxury effect,” a discrete gradient was detected along which the diversity of ornamental and amenity trees increases with the socio-economic status of neighborhoods: from rural settlements to urban residences via a series of intermediate designs, in which different levels of human-built vegetated areas alternate with non-landscaped spaces. Showy, non-productive amenity trees tend to occur more in wealthy quarters of the inner core of cities while edible ornamentals and other productive neighborhood trees prevail in rural and spontaneous settlements. In general, the practice of landscape plant design, in spite of its constant improvement, is still striving to get established as a profession in the country.


heritage trees patterns settlement neighborhoods, Rwanda 


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceNational University of RwandaHuyeRwanda
  2. 2.School of Landscape ArchitectureBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingP. R. China

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