Monday , May 20 2024
Home / NEWS / Uganda’s forest conservation efforts bear fruit

Uganda’s forest conservation efforts bear fruit

A tourist crosses over Griffin Falls via zip line in Mabira forest, Buikwe district, Central region of Uganda, Sept. 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Nicholas Kajoba)

KAMPALA, UGANDA | Xinhua | In recent years, Uganda has made significant strides in promoting forest conservation through heightened public awareness campaigns and the introduction of advanced technologies. These efforts are beginning to yield positive results.

According to data from the National Forest Authority, Uganda’s state-run forest conservation agency, forest cover has increased from 9 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2021, with a projected rise to 15 percent by 2025. This positive trend follows a notable decline in forest cover, which plummeted from 25 percent of the country’s landmass in 1990 to around 9 percent in 2015.

Despite these achievements, Uganda faces a pressing challenge in meeting its national and global commitments to protect and restore forests, largely due to the high rate of deforestation. The country has lost about 122,000 hectares of forests annually since 1990. Without intervention, Uganda risks losing all its forests by 2030, driven largely by the growing human population.

To address these challenges, Uganda pledged during the 2014 Climate Change Summit to restore 2.5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. The country also launched a campaign to plant 40 million trees annually, focusing on indigenous species. These efforts underscore Uganda’s commitment to sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.

The East African country, with contributions from private individuals, the state and development partners, has undertaken a variety of initiatives, leveraging technology to enhance forest conservation.

Zainabu Kakungulu, program officer for capacity development at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, highlighted the increasing importance of technology in forest management and conservation. She emphasized that technology enables researchers and conservationists to better understand forest dynamics and protect them more effectively. In Uganda, Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing technologies, such as drones, are utilized for surveying and mapping forests.

“Technology enables us to quickly gather information on forest health, loss and gain, which is crucial for effective conservation efforts,” she said.

In addition to digital technology, Uganda is embracing bioscience. Charles Bukuwa, director of Bukuwa Nurseries SMC Ltd, a private tree nursery operator, employs biotechnology to produce fast-growing, drought-resistant and pest-resistant trees.

Workers work in the nursery garden of Bukuwa Nurseries SMC Ltd, a private tree nursery operator, in Mpigi district, Central Uganda, March 19, 2024. (Photo by Nicholas Kajoba/Xinhua)

“If we are harvesting more and planting less, it means we need a technology that is going to give us stock or trees that are going to grow faster to bridge this gap. Tree biotechnology is the way forward,” Bukuwa explained.

Operating in three different parts of the country, Bukuwa’s nurseries produce between 600,000 to 800,000 eucalyptus tree seedlings per two seasons annually.

With growing awareness among the public about the increasing demand for timber and the dwindling supply due to the cutting of natural forests, many individuals are now engaging in tree planting as a business venture.

Bukuwa believes that with this understanding, it would be easier to increase forest cover to match or exceed the rate of destruction.

Bukuwa is not alone in his efforts; thousands of other tree nursery operators across the country are meeting the increasing demand for tree seedlings.

According to the National Forest Authority, an average of about 7,000 hectares of planted forests have been established annually over the last 15 years.

As part of its efforts in forest conservation, Uganda has intensified its cooperation with China in forest conservation in recent years.

Both Kakungulu and Bukuwa highlighted that, alongside the campaigns launched by the central government at the national level, Chinese citizens are encouraged to adopt or nurture trees, donate money and engage in volunteer work related to trees.

Kakungulu emphasized the need for Ugandans to adopt a culture of caring for trees to ensure forest conservation.

The National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China reported significant achievements in afforestation in 2023, with the country planting about 8.33 million hectares of trees and grass.

Bukuwa noted that Chinese children are taught about the importance of trees from a young age, suggesting that education about tree conservation and the environment should be included in Uganda’s school syllabus for lower learning levels, similar to China’s approach.

“China has imparted valuable lessons. Some of the technology originated from China, and many tree planting schemes are now inspired by China. You can even see bamboo growing,” Bukuwa said. ■

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *