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Buganda seeks special status over forests, wetlands

An official of Buganda kingdom Patrick Luwaga Mugumbule giving out tree seedlings for planting recently. Buganda wants to help protect the environment. PHOTO BUGANDA KINGDOM MEDIA

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Buganda has asked the government to give kingdom leaders authority over natural resources such as forests and wetlands in the kingdom if they are to be saved from degradation.

Buganda Minister for the environment, Mariam Nkalubo Mayanja called upon the government to grant the kingdom authority over the forests, wetlands, and other natural resources so that the kingdom can be able to preserve them. She said that the kingdom, due to its decentralized leadership reaching all levels from the county chiefs to the villages, has the capacity if given authority to deter these resources from being destroyed by monitoring them while the government enforces the law.

The Minister also requested the government to facilitate the kingdom with equipment and money so as to set up tree seedling nurseries and be able to supply trees to people in each county without waiting on the government to give out the seedlings to the kingdom. This she says will boost the environment restoration process as people will be able to access tree seedlings to plant anywhere within the kingdom.

The minister made the request at the Mengo palace at a function themed Nature is important to all creations during which Buganda closed its week of tree planting and preservation of nature.

According to the Directorate of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of water and environment, Uganda is losing its forest cover at an alarming rate. Statistics by the Directorate indicate that in 1900 the Forest cover was 53% in Uganda however by 2021 cover has diminished to only 13.3%. The statistics show that most forests by 1990 were on private land occupying 3.3 million hectares which is 70% of the forests in Uganda while 1.6 million hectares were in the hands of the government amounting to 30% of the total forest cover.

Furthermore, the wetland cover in 1994 was at 15% which is 37,559.4 square kilometers and has been reduced to 31,412.8 square kilometers which is 13% in 2019. Most of the destroyed wetlands are in Eastern Uganda at 40%, 26% in central, 18% in the north, and 17% in western. In Buganda, the most destroyed swamps include Lwajali, Ssezzibwa, Lubigi, and Lumansi.

Mugabi Stephen the Director of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of water and environment says that Agricultural expansion to increase food production is the leading cause of deforestation.

Buganda kingdom has been leading various efforts to save the environment. Last year the kingdom signed an MOU with the Ministry of Water and Environment to plant 20 million tree seedlings all over the kingdom, supplied by the government. Mugabi says the government is to continue to support tree planting in the kingdom.

He added that the Ministry of environment is to give the kingdom 32 tanks of 10,000 liter capacity each for rainwater harvesting so that people in the kingdom can access better quality water.

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