Nature Is Speaking: MECPA rallies populace in Lira to embrace tree planting


MECPA ED Moses Ogwal [in a tie] and next to him is Lira former forestry officer Richard Adupa. Photo by Frank Oyugi

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Summary

  • A publication by Allied Academies in 2018 says Uganda may not have any forests left in the next 83 years
  • As at June 2018, NFA said, a total of 2,511 hectares of natural forest have been restored.
  • Forest and woodland cover in Uganda stands at 49,000 km² or 24% of the total land area

Lira—8, June 2020: Yearly, on 5 June, World Environment Day is celebrated globally. The day is celebrated with a call to the world to action on critical issues ranging from wetland degradation, deforestation and climate change, among others.

This year’s celebration nearly went unnoticed by many across the globe because much attention has been given to Covid-19 pandemic, a novel virus that has ravaged the world. The UN Chief Antonio Gutierrez called on counties to care for nature.

“To care for humanity, we must care for nature. As we work to build back better, let’s put nature where it belongs – at the heart of our decision making,” said UN Secretary-General António Gutierrez. He added: “On World Environment Day and every day, it’s time for nature”

In Uganda, Covid-19 didn’t allow for any large gatherings to mark the day, but still the nation decided on an appealing national theme: “Nature Is Speaking, Listen.”

This comes in the wake of flooding in Kasese after River Nyamabwa burst its banks and several houses were demolished by nature in Kilembe.

There has also been flooding in Katabi in Entebbe Municipality that has pushed several people away from their homes, and the same is being experienced in the Lake Kyoga area of Amolatar district where several homes have been submerged in water.

Moses Ogwal, the Executive Director of Meaningful Empowerment For Change and Poverty Alleviation – MECPA, a Lira based NGO with passion on environment lauded the government on this year’s theme: “Nature Is Speaking”

“All the environmental problems the country is grappling with today for example the current flooding are a result of our negative actions on the environment such as deforestation and wetland degradation among others,” Mr Ogwal observes.

As part of its contribution to a secure environment, MECPA with support from United Nations Development Program [UNDP] has started raising tree seedlings and rallying the citizenry in Lira district for a massive tree growing.

On Friday (World Environment Day) MECPA interfaced with farmers group in Orit Parish, Agweng sub-county in Lira district and engaged them on the benefits of tree growing before delivering umbrella tree seedlings.

Orit parish is close to River Aswa that runs all the way to Acholi sub-region and according to Ogwal, most of the trees in Aswa catchment area have been depleted over the years as a result of human activities and warned that the River Aswa with time might flood and displace the surrounding community, and said, “the only remedy is to plant more trees”.

“The problem is that everybody turns to nature as a source of money and livelihood, for instance trees here are felled for charcoal,” Ogwal told residents of Atana village in Orit.

He was flanked by Ms Harriet Hope Akello, the Coordinator of Climate Action Network Uganda and Richard Adupa, who’s the energy focal point person for Lira district.

Ms Akello urged the community to embrace tree planting and further underscored the benefits of protecting biodiversity.

“Trees are vital in protecting the ozone layer from hazardous gaseous emissions into the space which is critical in mitigating climate change,” Akello told the locals and further implored them to equally conserve the natural or indigenous trees in their gardens and environment.

According to her, Lake Kyoga is currently grappling with the challenge of floods because trees which should have protected the lake were depleted in the past for fish smoking.

She further advised on improper waste disposal, citing plastic bottles which end up in the Lakes and Rivers, clogging it and causing siltation which results in eventual flooding.

She cited Kasese district where four million trees were planted and it was evident that the recent flooding didn’t occur in the forested areas but in Kilembe which have less trees.

She disclosed that the community should embrace other tree species such as musisi which has more environmental benefits compared to pines and eucalyptus tree species.

For now, farmers have been put in a group of five and according to Moses Ogwal, this is to ensure better management of the trees before the organization can begin to engage individual farmers.

The farmers were also guided on the required spacing while planting trees and the best management practices.

Ambrose Ogwal, the area LC1 chairperson and Sam Ogwal, a community mobiliser for MECPA said the locals now appreciates the challenges of climate change and are very passionate about tree planting.

They asked MECPCA with resources allowing to ensure that the entire sub-county of Agweng is covered.  

Today, forest and woodland cover in Uganda stands at 49,000 km² or 24% of the total land area. Of these 9, 242.08 km² is tropical rainforest, 350.60 km² are forest plantations. 39,741.02 km² is woodland. 30% of these areas are protected as national parks, wildlife reserves or central forest reserves.

A publication by Allied Academies in 2018 says Uganda may not have any forests left in the next 83 years due to high population growth unless serious interventions are executed not only by Ugandan government but also International Community (UNEP) United Nations Environment Program to assist Uganda in implementing environmentally sound policies and best practices, and other relevant agencies.

The report further projected that Uganda is at risk of losing all its forests if deforestation in Uganda continues at its present rate, adding that there would be no forests left in 40 years

As at June 2018, Uganda National Forest Authority said a total of 2,511 hectares of natural forest have been restored.

The Ministry of Water and Environment also says  over of 1,535 hectares of critical wetlands in Mbarara, Kiruhura, Alebtong, Dokolo, Lira, Pallisa, Kumi, Kampala, Wakiso, Kayunga, Lwengo, Masaka and Sheema were restored to secure their ecological and biodiversity integrity.

ofrank@tndnewsug.com


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