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Forest Restoration, a Powerful Solution to Solving Climate Change.

The New Campaign by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) dubbed ‘New Deal for Nature’ with the core value of stopping the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and building a future in which humans live in harmony with nature hence restoring what was destroyed by planting trees may be Uganda’s solution to solving climate change.

This is definitely not a one-day solution; it will take a joint effort of all Ugandans especially stakeholders.

The Ministry of Water and Environment NRM Manifesto Report 2020 indicated that Uganda’s forest cover has increased from 9% in 2015 to 12.4% in 2019. This was aided by increase in awareness, enforcements and restoration through natural regeneration and planting different tree species.

Unfortunately, studies by Ugandan scientists suggest that about 14% of Children between the age of 8 and 14 living in Kampala have health sickness that arise from air pollution.

With this, if every one of us planted a tree in our communities, we would do a great deal of reducing on the Cardon gases.

Officials from the Buganda Kingdom were the first to plant trees as an example to their subjects.

Forests help in stabilizing the climate by regulating the ecosystem, protecting the biodiversity and helping in driving sustainable growth.

This can only be done by planting more trees that have been lost. For example, because of the human population leading to encroachment of Rwenzori National Park, WWF has restored 2500 hectares of forest land around it.

Recently activists urged the Government of Uganda to intervene in saving the disputed Bugoma Central Forest Reserve land.In a recent court ruling, Hoima Sugar Limited was given green light to use 22 square miles of the forest for sugarcane growing

The Chief Executive Officer of AFIAGO Dickens Kamugishasays government should compensate those that have legal claim to the land if it’s committed to saving the forest.

“We know that Uganda is an agricultural economy like the government officials usually state.We are aware that agriculture is the back born of the country, but we need forests, the swamps and rivers are needed. Let’s get our priorities first,” Kamugishasaid.

This is proof that forests are facing intense competition from industry and agriculture hence reacting back. In fact, deforestation has led to unpredictable weather patterns leaving many farmers struggling with heavy rains that come too soon and sometimes too late leaving many struggling.

Why Uganda needs the forests?

Forests are home to 80 percent of Uganda’s biodiversity from the primates that got Uganda to be named the primates capital of the world, the tree climbing lions that have got the world wondering about their nature, the three horned chameleons that call the Rwenzori Mountains home and the Mountain Gorillas that are the wonders of the world, to mention but a few.

According to the African Journal of Ecology on the status of forests in Uganda, of the 4.9 million hectares of forests and woodlands in Uganda, 64% (1, 265, 471 ha) are found outside the Permanent Forest Estate (PFE), (land set aside for forestry activities in perpetuity, managed by private landowners and regulated by local governments).

“The PFE is 1.9 million ha, of which 61.4% is managed by the National Forestry Authority (NFA), 33.6% is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA); 4.7% of the PFE is jointly managed by NFA and UWA and 0.3% by local governments. The central forest reserves (CFRs) were reserved to provide forest products, amenity and recreation, conserve biodiversity, ameliorate climate, stabilize soils, and protect water catchments and steep slopes, riverbanks and lakeshores,” it revealed.

The National Forest Authority report of 2008 indicates that in 2004, the total economic value of Uganda’s forests, including all marketable and nonmarketable values, was estimated at Uganda shillings (Ushs) 593.24 billion, equivalent to about 5.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Forest Sector Review Report by the Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, 2001 indicates that wood and nonwood products removed from the forest for subsistence use are worth about Ushs. 210 billion (2.75%) of the GDP. Thus, the overall contribution of forests is about 6%of the GDP.

Forests and woodlands also provide a number of environmental services and direct benefits to agriculture, water and fisheries sectors.

These include the value of watershed and ground water protection, erosion control and carbon sequestration. These benefits are estimated at about Ushs. 112 billion or 1.45% of the GDP.

The Type of Forest Uganda has

Uganda’s natural forests vary accordingly in different parts of the countrybecause of the altitudes at which the forests located, soil types, drainage and past human activities.

The country’s forest types are designed with moist-evergreen forest, semi-deciduous forest and high-altitude forest include lianas, epiphytes and large trees 

The three sub-types namely Peptadeniastrum-Uapaca type found on Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria, Peptadeniastrum-AlbiziaCeltis found on the drier lake shores and Parinari excelsa type found along the western rift valley.

The other types Celtis-Chrysophyllum forest found in the drier areas to the north of Lake Victoria, Cynometra-Celtis forest of lower altitude zones along the western rift, Albizia-Milicia excelsa forest to the north of Lake Victoria and the Albizia-Markhamia forest which occurs in the mid-west with Prunus moist sub-type which is found in south-western Uganda and in the Mt.Elgon area while on the northern slopes of Mt. Elgon and then the Karamoja Mountains Juniperus-Podocarpus dry montane.

Interventions done

Some activities that have been done to sensitize the masses about trees are through school and community debates, matches with posters of impotent messages about tress, planting trees and many others.