Ugandan parliament to distribute tree seedlings to schools in Bunyoro

Uganda, the country’s Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change (PFCC) is to distribute over three thousand tree seedlings to all schools in Hoima district between March and July 2018.

According to Pius Wakabi, the Bugahya County Member of Parliament, who is a member of the Forum, the seedlings will be distributed to boost tree planting campaign in schools.

“Every child is supposed to plant a tree once the seedlings are provided is vital for Bunyoro,” the PM told Community Green radio.

Mr. Wakabi explained that the initiative of planting indigenous tree species like Terminalia, Mvule and Mahogany in schools is to save Bunyoro from drastic effects of climate change that might come due to continuous depletion of Bugoma and Budongo forests through human activities like cultivation, timber logging and construction.

Different school heads and communities have welcomed the development saying it will help conserve the environment for the better and help curb the ever changing weather.

“This is a good idea .We shall continue planting trees and create a positive impact to our communities”, explained Fr. John Mary Ssebugwawo, the Head teacher of St.JohnBosco seminary Secondary school in Hoima.

Hoima District Environmental officer Joseline Nyangoma has expressed gratitude to the leaders at different levels for joining hands to curb drastic climate change effects through planting trees. She explains that trees help to remove and store carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air that humans inhale.

“Trees have endless advantages when planted thus they reduce the energy demand for cooling, reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions from power plants”, explained Ms Nyangoma.

Uganda’s Parliamentary Forum on climate change is one of the first Forums in Africa on Environment and initiated by Ugandan parliament in 2008 to respond to the pressing environmental, social and economic issues.

National Association for Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) designed a program in 2017 to strengthen and empower host communities in bio-diversity rich areas to engage in decision making around management of natural resources which is under threat by human activities and the current national development agenda.

Story compiled by Dorcus Drijaru

Activists punch holes in government’s plan to certify legal timber

Ugandan Water and Environment minister Sam Cheptoris recently instructed National Forestry Authority to stamp on all legal timber sold in the market to reduce illegal timber cutting that has led to irreversible ecosystem degradation but environmentalists say this will instead abet corruption tendencies leading to biodiversity loss and irreversible ecosystem degradation.

Rajab Bwengye, the Coordinator of projects at National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) says with connivance between timber dealers and those in charge of protecting the forests, the stamps can as well be misused.

Mr. Bwengye is instead calling on government to work towards ending corruption that is greatly facilitating deforestation and illicit timber trade. He also believes government should work towards harmonizing working relations been the forestry authority and the District Forestry Officers in a bid to strengthen protection of forests.

“We have seen district forest officers conniving with illegal timber dealers and even lending them stamps. What can work is NFA and DFOs to have harmonized positions in protecting the forests,” he noted

Joan Akiiza, the legal officer at NAPE, says District Forestry Officers are mandated to collect revenue from forests and the pressure that government piles on them to hit certain revenue collection targets partly accelerates illegal timber cutting.

While addressing journalists in Hoima after his visit to Bugoma Central Forest Reserve last month, the Minister said timber dealers were given two weeks to get rid of all the timber in the stores after which the government would start impounding all timber without stamps.

Stuart Maniraguha, the manager for Budongo Systems welcomed the move saying it would extremely make it hard for thieves to find market for their timber.
It remains to be seen whether the implementation will yield results.

Latest findings by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) indicate that Uganda loses over 200,000 hectares of forest cover annually and plants less that 7000 hectares annually.

In Bunyoro, NAPE has been working with communities to protecting the forests through sensitization and supporting them to plant indigenous trees.

Compiled by Precious Naturinda