NationalNews

Forest depletion: Legislators accuse forestry body of leading deforestation

BY DAVID MAFABI
KAMPALA

Members of Parliament have accused the National Forestry Authority (NFA) of championing activities which have led to deforestation, contrary to their mandate of promoting tree planting.

The accusations were made during a debate of the report of the Committee on Climate Change on a motion for a resolution of Parliament urging the government to address climate change.

Ms Jacinta Atuto [Kapelebyong Woman MP] the vice chairperson of the committee on climate change presented the report that also recommended the re-opening of forest boundaries and cancellation of titles issued on gazetted forest land across the Country.

“Government should come up with incentives to encourage the public to plant trees,”  the report reads in part.

This comes at the time government statistics show that Uganda needs nearly two million hectares of plantation forests to strike a balance with the rapidly depleting natural forests.

On November 10, 2021, on the third day of the COP26 over growing deforestation summit, 105 countries signed an agreement to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, a pledge that was backed up by almost $19.2 billion of public and private funds, Uganda did not sign this commitment, despite its increasing deforestation rate.

Mr Muwanga Kivumbi, MP Butambala County, said that while people want to engage in tree planting, NFA on the other hand gives permits to people to cut down trees under the pretext of investments.

“We should first concentrate on protecting the existing forests. NFA should be audited for value for money on forests that have been cut down and sold off,” Mr Muwanga Kivumbi said.

Ms Jane Avur, the Pakwach district Woman MP cautioned against the eviction of people from forest reserves that are not gazetted and marked, saying that some of the people have lived in those areas for over 40 years.

“There are unknown forest reserves where people have lived for a long time. Government must follow processes of relocating such people as it is in the law,” Ms Avur said.

The committee report further recommended stringent sanctions on people who acquire land in wetlands and ensure that degraded wetlands are reclaimed.

Ms Beatrice Anywar, the minister of state for Water and Environment said that the ministry will soon table regulations to operationalise the Climate Change Act, 2022, and this she said, will go a long way in the restoration of the degraded environment.

“A committee is already in place and I can say that it has so far done 30 percent of its work. The work was however curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic where the budget was cut and this slowed the process,” Anywar said. Ends

How to manage depletion
-To save further depletion, we need to start collaborative forest management schemes where people are taught how to manage and reserve forests.

-These schemes would seek to start income-generating activities such as beekeeping, local herb collection as well as eco-tourism to develop forests and improve nature for productivity.

UGANDA

Land area (sq km): 199,810

Tree cover (30%)
Tree cover extent in 2000 (ha): 7,764,959
Tree cover extent as % of land area: 38.90%

Tree cover loss from 2001-20 (ha): 917,555
Tree cover extent as % of 2000 tree cover: 11.80%

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