Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | The National Forestry Authority-NFA has launched a drive to restore 10 hectares of Mubuku Central Forest Reserve in Kasese district. The campaign will be implemented jointly with Uganda Baati Limited, a member of Safal Group.
NFA signed an agreement with Uganda Baati in November 2022 to replant 40 hectares of indigenous trees across the country under the “Every Tree Counts” campaign. This will be equivalent to 10 hectares per region.
UBL Chief Executive Officer, George Arodi noted that this partnership aims to increase the forest cover in the country to combat climate change. He emphasized the company’s commitment to leading the way in reducing the impact of climate change.
Arodi said that the campaign is part of their corporate social responsibility to give back to communities and people to enable them to have more productive lives.
He mentioned that under the partnership, Uganda Baati made a direct contribution of Ugx 104 million to cover the 4 districts in the Central, West, East, and Northern Uganda regions. The initiative in Mubuku Forest, covering 10 hectares, is the second intervention after a similar exercise was undertaken in Kayunga last year.
Arodi further noted that “we face numerous environmental challenges. Climate change continues to escalate, biodiversity is threatened, and our cities grapple with pollution. Our responsibility as responsible corporate citizens is to take action and make a tangible difference in the lives of the communities we serve. I call upon other corporates to augment the effort of the Government of Uganda’s forest restoration initiatives.”
“Other than Health, Education and Shelter, Environment is key among the 4 pillars in the Safal Group and Uganda Baati Corporate Social Investment Agenda, which focuses on giving back to the communities where we operate in sustainable solutions to safeguard and conserve the environment for our future generations through initiatives such as this. This broadly contributes to Sustainable Development Goals, mainly SDG 13 (climate change) and SDG 17 (partnerships),” Arodi said.
Tom Rukundo, the Director of Natural Resources NFA said that forest cover is starting to improve following interventions from different partners. However, he appeals to communities in Kasese to be at the front of afforestation especially on the mountainsides to reduce calamities whenever it rains as a result of leaving the soil bare.
Eliphazi Muhindi, the Kasese District Chairperson who hailed the intervention asked UBL and NFA to offer seed supply opportunities to the local community. He asked the community to guard the planted trees.
Sowedi Kitanywa, the MP for Busongora South Constituency, said the intervention would also serve as a learning ground for the local community and leadership. He pledged the commitment of the leaders to support campaigns geared towards afforestation.
The LC V Chairperson, Elifazi Muhindi Bukombi, advised the residents to remain law-abiding and guard against the environment. “The challenges of natural disasters we have faced in Kasese are caused by environmental degradation. As a community, we must co-exist with the trees and benefit from each other.” He also urged NFA to support the local communities with seedlings to plant, as they offer local labor in the planting exercise.
The Resident District Commissioner, Lt. Joe Walusimbi, requested that the NFA double its efforts in enforcing the laws to mitigate environmental degradation and promised to offer extra support. “As the office of the RDC, we are ready and committed to giving more support to law enforcement. We need to protect our trees to be certain of the future,” he remarked.
According to the NFA statistics, in 1990, the forest cover was at 53%; by 1990, it had reduced to 24%; and to 12% in 2017, citing that Uganda has lost over 2.4 million hectares of forest cover.
Mubuku Forest Reserve becomes the second of the four Central Forest Reserves to be replanted under NFA’s four-year partnership with Uganda Baati Limited. The initial 10 hectares were planted in Bajjo Central Forest Reserve, Kayunga District. The other areas will be Namatale Central Forest Reserve in Sironko district and Lokiragado Central Forest Reserve in Arua district
Saimon Thembo a resident of Mubuku town council said he is ready to offer free labour to plant the trees so that the natural forest is restored.
We are joining the movement of repentance and ensuring that as a people we rectify the wrongs we have committed against Mother Nature.
Our partnership with @NFAUG will see us plant over 40 hectares of trees countrywide. Today we are in Mukubu Forest Reserve. #UGBaatiNFA pic.twitter.com/mulMjTZsOa
— Uganda Baati (@UgandaBaati) May 18, 2023