Minister wants 40 million trees planted annually

A tree cut with a power saw as depletion of Bugoma central forest reserve continues in Kyangwali Sub-county, Kikuube District. (Photo: NFA)

Government is committed to ‘growing 40 million trees’ annually as one of the ways to conserve the environment, says State Minister for Environment, Betty Anywar Atim, in her remarks yesterday (Thursday), March 18, 2021, during a high level dialogue to commemorate the International Day of Forests.

Speaking in Kampala, Ms Atim said it has been observed that charcoal burning has become a big challenge leading to deforestation in Uganda, thus, needs to be tackled by getting another source of energy to save forests from destruction.

The minister said people need to be sensitised about the dangers of deforestation in addition to increasing the budget for environmental officers to enable them carry out their work diligently to save forests from depletion.

“This business of charcoal is becoming a big challenge. We need to seek an alternative source of energy. As government, we need to sensitise the community. The financing should be empowered so that our environmental officers work on a reasonable budget at the district level so that they don’t prey. That is how there has been so many calls to de-gazette forests,” she said.

The high level dialogue to commemorate the International Day of Forests under the theme: Forest restoration: a path to recovery and wellbeing,” was organised by the UN agencies and sister partners with the function being held at Kampala Serena Hotel attracting several academia, civil society organisations, private sector, youth groups, tree farmers, policy makers and politicians.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests (IDF). The event commemorates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

On each IDF, countries are encouraged to undertake efforts in organising activities involving tree planting campaigns.

Such partners as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, European Union and Swedish Embassy are keen on the restoration of the environment working hand in hand with the Government of Uganda.

According to a study, Uganda’s forest cover has been reduced from five million to 1.9 million hectares in the last two decades, corresponding to a countrywide coverage of nine percent.

However, eight million hectares are ready to be reforested, according to a study of the International Union for Conservation (IUC) in 2016.

The IUC states that in East Africa, Uganda has the best conditions for reforestation with the climate, rainfall and soils being extraordinarily suitable.

It leaves more challenging questions why government is considering reforestation yet forests like Bugoma are being destroyed for sugarcane growing with nothing done to stop the depletion.

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