Government should take charge of national tree planting

Government should take charge of national tree planting

This week, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga rebuked the Water and Environment minister for pledging to provide Rotary Uganda with one million tree seedlings per year for planting. Rotary seeks to plant 100 million trees in five years across the country.

The Speaker referred to the minister’s tree pledge as a joke. In her argument, the ministry was relegating their work to a charity organisation instead of taking the lead as a line ministry to champion this cause of bringing back the diminishing forest cover.
Currently, the country is experiencing unprecedented deforestation and destruction of wetlands which has a direct influence on the weather. Uganda has a forest cover deficit of 900,000 hectares which has been created in just 10 years.

Many of the trees are being felled to create room for agriculture, fuel, setting up industries, settlements, among others. During a fact finding tour of Kajjansi by the Commission of Inquiry into land matters on Wednesday, the commission was shocked to discover that the entire 297 hectares of Kajjansi Central Forest Reserve in Wakiso District had been destroyed under the watch of National Forestry Authority officials.
Ms Kadaga’s anger is therefore well directed. The forest cover in the country is getting depleted yet the responsibility of replenishing it has been relegated to non-governmental organisations, individuals and charity organisations, which should only be complementing government.

In a reversal of roles, National Forestry Authority has been faulted by the Commission of Inquiry into land matters of being at the forefront of the diminishing forest cover in Uganda. A simple ride around the country will show you how hilltops which once had trees and bushes are now bare.
This trend should be worrying authorities and therefore a deliberate grand plan should be devised to cause afforestation, given the fast forest diminishing rate in the country. Instead of government spearheading the initiative to show concern over the situation, it is other private entities and agencies at the core of planting trees while government is playing second fiddle where it ought to be taking centre stage.

No wonder the Speaker tasks the Ministry of Environment to provide a national programme of tree planting to avert an environmental catastrophe. This noble idea should be welcomed by the responsible ministry to restore forests.

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