The Food and Agricultural Organisation(FAO) and environmentalists under the National Association of Professional Environmentalists(NAPE) have launched a project aimed at monitoring Ugandan forests.
Dubbed “Increasing the role of civil society in fighting illegal logging” the project with support from FAO will be implemented by NAPE with Filed Legality Advisory Group, a Cameroonian organization with expertise in independent forest monitoring in Central and West Africa.
“The economic impact of illegal logging and related trade on countries is transversal, compromising the efficiency of environmental and landscape protection projects thus reducing government revenues and affecting livelihoods for those in the wood value chain which in turn exacerbates income disparities,” said Dr.Charles Owach, the Assistant FAO representative in Uganda.
He noted that the global demand for timber all over the world means an increase in illegal logging activities, adding that there is need to protect forests by governments.
According to Owach , it is however energizing that that actions to combat deforestation and illegal logging, just like the newly launched project have gained momentum in the past few years.
“The inclusion of civil society is an important step because the civil society is an important constituency for changes, monitoring progress and facilitating consensus building for effective governance.”
David Kureeba, the program office in charge of forests and biodiversity at the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) the project will see a number of tools deployed to help monitor forests from illegal loggers around the county.
“We shall hold meetings with a number of stakeholders who will be involved in addressing the issue of illegal logging,”Kureeba said.
Highlighting the big challenge faced, Kureeba said the issue cannot be addressed by only the National Forestry Authority or the Ministry of Trade but rather concerted efforts from all players across the board.
“It is our responsibility as citizens to ensure illegal logging is stopped in this era of climate change. We will work with CSOs, government of Uganda, National Forestry Authority, academia, media and other players in the country to fight illegal logging.
He noted this project is aimed at coming up with an independent monitoring strategy for all forests in the country and also making it visible so that people involved in the illegal logging can stop the activity.
Speaking on behalf of government, Bob Kazungu from the Ministry of Water and Environment welcomed the project to augment government efforts to protect natural resources.
“Monitoring of forestry management has been undertaken by government institutions and reports have been used to inform policy in many instances. Therefore, the engagement of civil society to participate in monitoring of forests in Uganda is a governance milestone,”Kazungu said.