13 June 2005

Uganda: Bunyoro Embarks On Tree-Planting

Kampala — BUNYORO Kingdom has started a campaign to restore the degraded environment following a drastic change in the weather.

In Masindi district, meteorological reports say the evaporation rate is very high. According to environment reports, the water table has sunk and rivers have dried up.

In a bid to conserve the environment, the kingdom has started a tree-planting advocacy, which is playing the leading example.

"Many trees have been cut in favour of agriculture. As result, our climate is endangered. If we do not act faster, a desert may occur because in some areas like Buseruka, there is a sign that the area is a turned desert," says Erisa Byenya Kagoro, the Katikiro.

"Schools are being destroyed every year because of lack of wind-breakers. This environment campaign is wide and we are looking for potential investors, who can plant trees on the hills," he adds.

In the campaign, the message to all homesteads is every home must plant a forest for firewood. One acre is the proposed coverage for the home forest and half of the area on fruits. The kingdom has embarked on planting trees in Hoima, Masindi and Kibaale forests with the eucalyptus and pine species.

A total of 291 hectares have been planted since 2002 at a cost of about sh240m in planting and maintenance.

"Our main target is to have all the nine forests, which were returned by the central government planted with pines. They are fast growing. If they are fully planted, we hope the climate will change. We appeal to NGOs for sponsorship," says Joseph Twegonze, Bunyoro Kingdom forest officer.

Rwampanga Forest is the biggest in the kingdom. It covers an area of 14 square kilometres and all is intended to be planted. However, as the planting continues, some get burnt by unknown people.

The 100 hectares of trees, which were planted in 2003, got burnt. It is believed they were burnt by hunters or honey-collectors.

Eucalyptus trees will be planted in the following forests; Hoima forest, Musoma forest, Masindi forest, Masindi port forest, Kakumiro forest, Kagadi forest, Kibaale forest and Ndaiga forest.

Twegonze says apart from transforming the environment, the kingdom looks at them as a future source of income.

"The kingdom is investing a lot of money, but we hope after they have matured, they will earn the kingdom some income.

"Good species are what we encourage individual families to grow so that after maturity they harvest and sell them," he says.

Twegonze says a nursery bed of pines has been set and individuals are free to apply for them.

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