Despite making a big contribution towards survival of peoples’ livelihoods, the country loses about 90,000 hectares of forest cover every year, a situation that is worsening the effect of climate change in the country.
The Director of Environment, Mr Paul Mafabi, yesterday said Uganda has lost 900,000 hectares of forest cover over the last ten years yet the government has planted less than 100,000 hectares, creating a deficit.
“There a big deficit and it is evident when one takes any direction from Kampala, the land is bare and the effects of climate change are more felt due to the absence of tree cover,” said Mr Mafabi, appealing for a joint effort to reverse the trend.
Speaking at the International Forest Week 2014 in Kampala, Mr Mafabi also revealed that arrangements to issue forest regulations have been finalised with the instrument pending approval by the Environment.
The forest week
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) led by Care International Uganda, in partnership with the government, launched the forest week ahead of the March 21 celebrations with the theme: ‘Forests in the era of climate change to enhance food security.’
State minister for Environment Flavia Munaaba attributed the dwindling forest cover to poor governance and insufficient efforts to arrest the situation.
“The continued use of charcoal, firewood and other forest products puts us all under the cover of perpetrators of forest crimes. Our actions are encouraging deforestation and therefore making us abettors of forest crimes,” said Ms Munaaba.
The minister added: “If we are to safeguard forests, we need individual action and responsibility. But we pay lip service when we begin to throw blame without using alternative sources of energy.”
CSOs earlier attributed the increasing food prices to the rampant disappearance of forest cover saying the situation calls for government to enhance efforts to save the livelihoods of poor people.
“This situation has culminated into prolonged dry seasons leading to a serious reduction in food supply which has then contributed to the increasing food prices,” the CSO said in a statement.