By Denis Turyahebwa.
In an attempt to increase forest cover and meeting the Vision 2040 afforestation target, National Forestry Authority will launch a nation-wide tree planting campaign this Friday 21st Sept 2018.
According to the Executive Director, National Forestry Authority Tom Obong Okello, the biomass study by the Authority in 2015 identified massive deforestation as one of the most critical environmental crises facing Uganda.
Mr Okello clarified that forest cover across the country tremendously declined from 24%(4,933,271 hectares) of land area in the 1990 to less than the current 9%(1,956,664Ha) in 2018 meaning the country lost 3,000,000 hectares of forest cover in 25years.
‘’This alarming situation has been driven by illegal logging to meet huge demand for timber, fuel wood including charcoal, carving, unsustainable agricultural practices, urbanization and unregulated livestock grazing’’. Mr Okello said.
He added that deforestation has led to habitat loss, species extinction and soil degradation resulting into poor yield which needs to be restored to at least 136,000 annually.
Mr Okello also pointed at the current climate change effects and destabilized water cycle that has brought about disappearance of local streams, frequent weather , climate variability including droughts, interruptions of frequency and intensity of rains resulting into floods and landslides in highland areas as a result of lacking forest cover.
‘’Our plan sets a target of restoring the forest cover from 9% to 18% by the year 2020 which needs concerted efforts from all stakeholders in order to reverse the deforestation effects. We call upon all Ugandans to embrace the tree planting program and management of existing forests in a way that is sustainable, improves community livelihoods and supports income generation with the long term vision of increased forest and tree cover and conserving the environment’’. Mr Okello added.
The exercise will be launched on Friday 21st September 2018 at 6 regional centres i.e Mabira Central forest Reserve, Jubia Central Forest Reserve in Masaka and Abera CFR in Gulu.