60% of Wakiso forests destroyed

Demand. Men at Kassangombe saw mill in Wakiso Town on February 12, 2018. The growing demand for timber has led to deforestation. PHOTO BY JOSEPH KIGGUNDU

What you need to know:

Justification. The vice is attributed to the growing demand for timber and charcoal.

WAKISO. Wakiso District officials have expressed concern over the disappearing forest cover in the area.
Records from the district forestry department indicate that 60 per cent of forests in the area have been depleted in the past two decades following the growing timber business.

According to the district forestry officer, Ms Harriet Nankya, saw millers have defied guidelines on cutting trees for timber.

“We have on several occasions engaged them [saw millers] about the dangers they are causing to the district but they have failed to take heed. We have now started conducting operations to save our forests by registering all people in the timber business and generating a computer code for each one, which will enable us to monitor their work,” Ms Nankya said on Wednesday

“We want to know how many trees they cut, where they get them and even see whether they harvest recommended mature trees,” she added.
Wakiso District, due to its proximity to Kampala city, is the one of the fastest growing urban centres in the country. Due to high rent fees and taxes in the city, many businesses are shifting to the district. This has put pressure on the existing forests as people cut down trees to create space for homesteads and business centres.

Ms Nankya said only people with valid licences will be allowed to engage in the timber business.

However, saw millers in Wakiso District led by Mr Martin Kintonsa accused the district of levying exorbitant taxes from timber dealers.

“We have already paid for operational licences in addition to trade licences. The district officials are now telling us that every saw miller has to pay an annual subscription of Shs1.4m. Honestly, where do they expect us to get all that money from?” Mr Kintonsa asked.

Available statistics indicate that Wakiso District has 19 forest reserves, 17 of which are managed by National Forestry Authority. The other two; Katabi and Nabbuga are locally managed.