NEMA blames depletion of forest cover on subsistence farming

Monday May 03 2021
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R-L: NEMA ED Tom Okurut, NFA ED Tom Okello (C) and MAAIF Commissioner Deus Muhwezi.

By Jessica Sabano

National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has decried the rate at which Uganda is losing forest cover and blamed it on subsistence farming.

The Authority’s executive director, Dr Tom Okurut said agriculture land was increasing while forest land was decreasing, something he argues, threatens the ecosystem yet biodiversity is supposed to be an insurance policy of nature.

"Agriculture land is increasing as forest land is decreasing and posing a threat to the ecosystem," he said during the signing of an MOU between NEMA, National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF) for production of Biodiversity hot spots, land use and ecosystem maps to inform decision making process in Agriculture sector on Friday.

Dr Okurut said the Ministry has designed programmes and interventions that reach subsistence farmers and see how they can turn to modern farming.

"The subsistence farmers are driving change in ecosystem because they need to survive. There should be count of the species in the places they are trying to conserve because most of them have been wiped out. The reason as to why they have pesticides is because of disappearance of species that used to consume the pests,” he added.

He said the MoU will help to overcome the problem of loss of nitrogen in the soil which is to affect food production in future.

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NFA's executive director, Mr Tom Okello Odong said they would supply data to help implement the provisions of the MoU.

He said Forest cover is mainly on land that is not gazzatted.

"We are seeing a lot of reduction cover in the country which is affecting mainly private land. We are losing forest cover and also losing pollination," he said.

Mr. Okello said in 1990, 24% forest cover was lost, 15% was lost in 2010, 15% was lost in 2015 and therefore, Uganda has lost 90,000  hectares of forest cover per year over the years with average of 2.6% annually.



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