Rebecca Kadaga the Speaker of Parliament, has joined other environment activists to demand an end to razing down of forests. These acts she says are mainly perpetrated by government officials.
Speaking during this year’s Running out of Trees (ROOT) Initiative which targets to plant 40 million trees countrywide which also coincided with celebrations to mark World Forest day, Kadaga said she was baffled by big names involved in deforestation.
“I went to Lamwo and the people were whispering to me the ones cutting down trees are leaders. I was later told it is one of the ministers. In this famous Bugoma forest, there are big names involved. It is not small people, but very big names in the country. During the day, they are talking environment. But behind our backs, they are busy cutting down forests for sugarcanes,” Kadaga said on Sunday.
Bugoma forest has been in the news for the last two years or so because of the cutting down of trees for sugarcane growing.
NEMA recently cleared Hoima Sugar Limited to use the forest reserve for sugarcane growing when it issued a certificate of approval for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report.
The Speaker of Parliament said it is embarrassing that the people with the task to protect forests are the ones leading efforts to raze them down.
She noted that despite efforts by parliament to have a tree fund, the same has been frustrated by the government.
“I have complained about the absence of the tree fund. Two years ago, we put it in the budget but when it went to the Ministry of Finance, they removed it yet it is part of our law. 17 years after the National Forestry Act, we have not had it. I have talked about the national tree planting day but it is not yet in effect. If serious managers don’t see the benefit of tree planting, what will the ordinary person do,” Rebecca Kadaga wondered.
The State Minister for Environment, Beatrice Anywar said there is need to strengthen the existing laws. This will ensure they are not only barking dogs but can also bite those in the wrong.
“We need to strengthen our laws more. Because if we don’t deter people from cutting trees without knowing they are going to Luzira for some time, they will continue. As we grow more trees, we need to have efforts to protect the ones already planted,” Anywar said.
The Minister for Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris 65% of forest degradation takes place on private land and on several occasions the landowners choose land-use change from forestry to agriculture, industry or settlement over biodiversity conservation.
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