Trees in Uganda account for 90% of energy sources used in homes for cooking, small scale industries such as bakeries.
As a result, Uganda’s forest cover has dwindled from more than 10 million hectares at independence in 1962 to less than 3.6 million by 2005.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are worried that by 2050 if there is no significant intervention the country will not have a single forest in a few decades.
According to a 2014 ministry of Energy and Mineral Development report on energy consumption in the country, urban centres consume 22.5 million tonnes of charcoal annually.
The report warned that biomass energy (from trees) demands may hit 135 million tonnes, up from the current 44 million tonnes, by 2040.
Environmentalist said the rate at which the country is losing forest cover is a threat to future generations.
The Programme officer at Ecological Christian Organization (ECO) Anthony Wolimbwe noted that for many years, Uganda’s protected areas have come under increasing threat from deforestation and degradation, owing to an increasing human population and industrialisation.
“We still have the opportunity to protect forests and the environment at large. We can even plant more trees than before. We need a new policy so that we are in position to put in place guidelines that can help to protect forest land,” he said.
Another key contributor to deforestation is farming which keeps expanding to meet the food needs of the growing population.
According to the recent report by World Wide Fund-Uganda (WWF-U), some of the effects of climate change such as floods, deforestation, droughts, and recession of water bodies have already been seen in Uganda which is a big threat to the environment and the country at large.
The report faulted rural communities, smallholder farmers, and pastoralists for the highest negative impact on biodiversity across Uganda.
Experts believe that the frontier land-use change through continuously converting land for agriculture and harvesting wood for energy is propelled by population growth and poor land use and natural resource management.
According to Gaster Kiyingi, a team leader at Tree Talk Plus(TTP), the government lacks political will to protect the natural resources which is discouraging
World Wide Fund (WWF) Uganda in July this year received Shs 14 billion ($4 million) funding from Velux from Denmark to implement a project in Uganda aimed at regeneration of the natural forests for carbon sequestration.
Speaking to the Nile Post, David Duli, the WWF Uganda Country Director noted that the long-term outcome of the project is to ensure that the forest cover in the landscape is regenerated to create a positive impact on carbon stocks and community benefits with a focus of at least 1 million tons of carbon emissions in the 20th year of the project.
“We are cognisant that the country is working to restore landscapes back to the 1990 levels. We applaud efforts to move from 9% in 2013/14 to currently 12% as of 2021. We hope that our efforts will contribute to the 24% target,” he said.
The 20-year project will have five years of active implementation, five years of maintaining the planted areas and 10 years of monitoring the impacts on carbon, biodiversity, community and households.
Godwin Kamugisha from the National Environment Management Authority(NEMA), said the Constitution gives everyone the right to a clean environment and also bestows a responsibility on us to preserve the environment.
“Let’s work together to continue preserving the resource from which we get our livelihood,” he said.
Environmentalists want a package for the promotion of environment conservation prioritised as part of the wider government Covid-19 recovery plan expressing concern that the pressure exerted on the environment may be immense as 2 million people fell back into poverty during the pandemic.