Government will tomorrow launch its nationwide campaign to plant up to ten million trees as a way of restoring the fast shrinking tree cover in Uganda.
Beginning with Friday, different government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will engage in planting trees in the different forest reserves across Uganda.
This was announced by the Executive Director of the National Forestry Authority (NFA), Tom Obong Okello during a press conference at Uganda Media Centre on Thursday.
Planting will be done in Mabira Central Forest Reserve (CFR), Mbale CFR, Kaswa – Kitomi CFR in Bushenyi and Rubirizi, Jubiya CFR in Bukakata and Apera CFR in Gulu.
The initiative is part of the Corporate Social Responsibility by the tax body URA ahead of its annual Tax Payer Appreciation Week.
Obong told the press on Thursday that massive deforestation is the most critical environmental crisis Uganda is faced with today. The first cover is drastically depreciating, he said.
Uganda has lost 3 million hectares of forest cover in the last 25 years alone. In 1990, 24% of the country’s total land area was covered with trees totaling to 4.9 million hectares. Currently, this stands at just 1.9 million hectares.
“This is very alarming and a cause for us to get worried. We must replace atleast 136,000 hectares every year for us to recover this loss. This is no mean task, it requires everyone’s intervention,” he said.
He attributed the high rate of deforestation to urbanization, demand for firewood and charcoal and the lack of land for agriculture as the population continues to swell.
The impact of this is disastrous as it results in climatic changes, the drying up of rivers and streams, weather variances which cause floods, habitat loss and extinction of certain species.
If the 10 million trees are all planted, they will restore about 10,000 hectares of forest cover.
“We expect communities, corporates, private sector, individual groups, to join us as we plant these trees. They should pick up the seedlings and plant in their own locations,” he said.
The tree seedlings will be availed at no cost at the various NFA nursery beds scattered across Uganda.
In the case of Northern Uganda, NFA says planting has been deferred to next year due to the insufficient rains at the moment.
URA’s Assistant Commissioner for Corporate and Public Affairs, Vincent Seruma said that URA chose the free planting project since tree cover directly impacts on climate which in turn impacts on agriculture, a sector that makes 27.1% of Uganda’s GDP. He said replacing the depleted forests is ideal.
Commenting on the Tax Payer Appreciation Week scheduled for September 26 to 28 at Kololo independence ground, Seruma said that numerous free services like legal, tax and financial advisory, birth registration, verification of land titles, registration of cooperatives and medical screenings will be provided.