Beer company, Uganda Breweries Limited has handed over shs330 million to the Ministry of Water and Environment towards the 2021 national tree planting campaign named (Running out of trees).
Speaking at the handover ceremony at the ministry headquarters in Luzira on Tuesday, Juliana Kaggwa, the Corporate Relations Director at UBL said it is good business for corporate and private companies t join hands in tackling the environmental crisis.
“This is an initiative between government and the private sector to deal with deforestation but also replenish the green environment to what it was over a decade ago. If the forest cover is depleting at the rate of 122,000 hectares per year and Uganda has 4.9 million hectares, if we do nothing, in 40 years, Uganda will be left bare,”Kaggwa said.
“We must put in motion the process and tools necessary to ensure this beautiful green country of ours continues to sustain livelihoods as we pledge to sustain its survival.”
The UBL official said the money will go towards the Running Out Of Trees(ROOTs) campaign, an initiative between the Ministry of Water and Environment in collaboration with the private sector aimed at working together to fast track national forest restoration goals and commitments which include among others a plan to restore 2.5 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030.
“Your legacy is what you leave behind for the next generation. We, therefore, need to plant trees for each and every Ugandan to have one. It is not enough to do it alone but it should be everyone’s business to plant trees,”Kaggwa said.
The Ministry of Water and Environment Permanent Secretary, Alfred Okot Okidi welcomed the private sector efforts to complement government in conserving the environment.
“Trees are towers for water and regulate our environment but also a source of livelihood and by planting more than we cut down, we will address the problem of climate change. Such efforts from the private sector to join government are always welcome,”Okidi said.
“Over 80% of the food and beverages we take are water. Over 85% of our people depend on water directly or indirectly yet forests are homes to water. This is, therefore, a call to increase our efforts to plant trees to conserve water.”
Government has been condemned for not caring enough to see that the country’s forests are saved from loggers that have depleted the trees but according to the Ministry of Water and Environment Permanent Secretary, it should be every person’s business to protect forests and the environment at large.
“The issue of the environment does not affect government only but everyone. Everyone should play a strong role in ensuring the protection of the environment. You need to own up the fight against degradation,”Okidi said.
UBL, under its E Green Initiative, has planted over 55,000 trees across the country since 2005 but has pledged to plant a total of 40 million trees each year for the next five years.
Statistics from the National Forestry Authority show that Uganda lost 2.4 million hectares of forest cover between 1990 and 2015 which translates into an annual loss of 96,000 hectares, which in acres is equivalent to 96,000 football pitches.