23 May 2013

Uganda: Norway Pledges Funds for Forests

Uganda loses nearly 100,000hectares of forest cover annually through encroachment, exposing the population to the risks and costly consequences of climate change.

It is therefore for this reason that the Norwegian Embassy has pledged continued support to Uganda in form of increased funding in forest restoration, environment management and conservation as part of their micro-development projects in the country.

The Norwegian ambassador to Uganda, Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether, said his country is ready to offer more support to Uganda

The envoy urged Ugandans to demonstrate positive response towards their (Norway's) effort in such projects.

The ambassador was presiding over a restoration campaign of Lwamunda Central Forest Reserve in Muduma sub-county in Mpigi district on Wednesday.

"Environment issues are each and every one's concern and therefore call for a concerted effort in preventing the likely impact of climate change in the country," said Gaustadsaether.

He urged the government to support environmental projects through favorable policy formulation, public sensitization and awareness of the importance of forests.

The restoration campaign was organized by National Forest Authority in conjunction with Norway-Uganda Friendship Association (NUFA) as part of their celebrations for the Nordic day.

Over 80 percent of the 4,696hectares of the national forest (Lwamunda) was destroyed following the wanton activities of encroachers like charcoal during, timber cutting, cultivation among others. About 10hectares were restored through tree planting by NFA and NUFA on Wednesday.

According to Levy Etworu, the NFA acting director natural forests, Lwamunda was gazetted in 1932 for purposes of ecological conservation and protection of water sources from silting. Following economic growth and demand for timber in the neighboring urban areas, the forest become denuded as encroachers turned to it for their livelihood.

According to Muduuma sub-county secretary of finance, planning and Education, Ismail Mugweri, the forest was destroyed because of poverty and lack of information about the importance of forests by the community.

"Until five years ago, this forest used to be a very big, thick forest. However, people started cutting trees at night for timber and charcoal for sale," said Mugweri.

According to the NFA executive director, Michael Mugisa, the authority will continue its struggle in restoring forests in Uganda through collaborative forest management (CFM). Mugisa however, cautioned encroachers on national forests to vacate them before it is too late for them (encroachers).

"As NFA, we shall use all the necessary legal means to prosecute whoever we find in national forests and the penalties are very clear in the National forest act," said Mugisa.

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