Kampala, 20th September 2018.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you to today’s press conference.
Let me start by thanking the Government Communication’s Officers Forum members for putting together activities of the Tax Payer’s week and for specifically choosing tree planting as this year’s Corporate Social Responsibility within the Tax payer’s appreciation week.
I would also like to thank all Ugandans for joining hands in this campaign geared towards reforestation and restoring Uganda’s forest cover.
Members of the media, you are doing a great job in creating environmental awareness amongst Ugandans. You are great partners. We thank you and implore you to continue with this noble work.
Fellow Ugandans, the Biomass studies by the National Forestry Authority of 2015 identified massive deforestation as one of the most critical environmental crises facing Uganda. Uganda’s forest cover across the country tremendously declined from 24% (4,933,271 hectares (Ha)) of land area in the 1990 to less than the current 9% (1,956,664Ha) in 2018. That Uganda has lost about 3,000,000 ha of forest cover in 25 years is very alarming. To reverse this loss by 2040, we need to restore at least 136,000 Ha annually.
Forest loss has been driven by illegal logging to meet huge demands for timber, fuelwood including charcoal, carving, unsustainable agricultural practices, urbanization and unregulated livestock grazing.
The high rate of deforestation has led to habitat loss and species extinction, and soil degradation resulting in poor crop yield. Deforestation is also contributing to climate change effects and destabilizing water cycle leading to disappearance of local streams, frequent weather and climatic variability including droughts, interruptions of frequency and intensity of rains resulting into floods and landslides in the highland areas. This has affected crop and livestock yields hence livelihoods.
As you are aware, the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995, empowers Government to protect and preserve the environment from abuse, pollution and degradation; to manage the environment for sustainable development; and to promote environmental awareness.
The National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003 provides for tree planting and growing and also regulates sustainable utilization of forest products.
The National development Plan II (2015 – 2020) sets a target of restoring the forest cover from 9% to 18% by the year 2020. For this to be achieved, concerted efforts of all stakeholders is required. In this regard, Cabinet gazetted four National Tree Planting Days, i.e., 8th March, 1st May, 5th June and 12th August every year to coincide with International Women’s’ Day, Labour Day, World Environment Day and International Youth Day celebrations respectively.
To reverse deforestation, we must massively and progressively increase tree cover through tree planting and management of existing forests in a way that is sustainable, improves community livelihoods and supports income generation with the long-term vision of increased forest and tree cover and conserving the environment.
This Corporate Social Responsibility program targeting planting 10,000,000 trees (10,000 Hectares) is geared towards increasing the forest and tree cover in Uganda.
The National Forestry Authority in partnership with Uganda Revenue Authority, Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Local Government using the Corporate Social Responsibility approach are providing the leadership and momentum for the planned massive (10,000,000) tree planting efforts across the country starting with the launch tomorrow 21st September 2018, at 6 regional centers, i.e. in Mabira Central Forest Reserve, Mbale Central Forest Reserve, Kasyoha Kitomi CFR in Ruburizi, Jubia CFR in Masaka and Abera CFR in Gulu. Tree planting in West Nile, northern and parts of Eastern will be differed to early next year due to climatic and rainfall pattern. We expect communities, government agencies, corporates and private sector to join us at the above forest reserves tomorrow at 9.00am and we plant trees. People are encourage to visit any of the NFA 32 tree seedling nurseries countrywide to access free seedlings for planting on private land.
When you pick the seedlings, ensure that you properly plant and care for the seedlings. Our nursery supervisors will give you guidance on how to plant the seedlings.
I request all Ugandans to support the need for massive tree planting and afforestation across the country to reverse deforestation in fulfilment of our National Development Plan II.
National Forestry Authority is determined to fulfill its mandate of sustainable environment management through promotion of tree planting and forest management across the country. In order to achieve this, NFA in collaboration with other Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Institutions and Development Partners will work together on the above activities. We strongly believe this approach will be an entry point for other partners to support approaches aimed at increasing the forest cover and meeting the Vision 2040 afforestation target.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY
Tom Obong Okello
For further inquiry contact;
- Aisha Alibhai 0772527106 – Communication & PR Manager NFA
- Juliet Mubi 077093372 – PR Officer NFA