The Parliamentary Budget Committee has recommended the formation of a coordination mechanism for forestry management for “effective monitoring and protection of biodiversity forests” of both the Central and Local forest reserves to ensure increased forest cover.
Uganda loses 90,000 hectares of forest cover every year, a worrying trend for the country.
The Committee noted in the 2019/2020 Budget Framework paper that despite various Government interventions to restore forest cover through gazettement of forest reserves, entering into public- private partnerships, reclaiming of forest land and sensitization of the population on the need for better forest cover, there has been continued loss on acreage of forest cover due to encroachment, issuance of illegal titles in both Central Forest Reserves and Local forest reserves, illegal extraction of both Timber and nontimber forest products on private lands and in the reserves.
“This trend if left unattended to is bound to impact negatively on the climate,” the lawmakers warned in their report.
Government’s strategy to reverse the trend of forest cover loss involves demarcation of forest boundaries with pillars, procurement of forest patrol vehicles and payment of forest patrol plus increased supply of seedlings for restoration and commercial tree planting will significantly contribute to increased forest cover from the current 9% to l9% by 2O2l.
In order for this to be achieved, a total allocation of Shs 8.7bn is required annually.
MPs said an elaborate regulatory framework on commercial forest plantations should be put in place detailing mode of issuance and cancellation of licenses, transfer of interests to another person or entity, reverting interests to government as well as coexistence.
National Forestry Authority was informed of the need to prioritise development of fast growing indigenous species such as bamboo, Maesopsisemnii (umbrella trees) among others.
They further called for the tightening of industry standards for harvesting and that the quality of timber should be established in collaboration with UNBS for quality assurance purposes.
Part of the encroachment on forest is attributed to production of charcoal for fuels in homes.
The Uganda Household survey report of 2016/17 indicates that firewood and charcoal combined constitute the main source of fuel for cooking accounting for 94 percent of the households.
MPs said affordable alternative sources of energy for domestic consumption should be developed to combat the effects of desertification and climate change.
In order to promote alternative source of cooking energy, said MPs, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) should be exempt of VAT and Import tax.
“This would make LPG an affordable alternative to charcoal in urban areas particularly through the reduction of upfront costs oil stoves and gas cylinders,” said the Budget Committee, adding, “Massive sensitization on sustainable use of natural resources, behaviour change to promote energy conservation and safety during cooking amongst other issues should be rolled out country wide.”