National Forestry Authority in collaboration with districts hosting refugees are to embark on a tree planting initiative aimed at restoring the degraded central forest reserves, as a result of the influx of refugees.
According to Paul Bunyerah Musamali, the acting executive director NFA, they intend to plant about 100,000 assorted trees countrywide but targeting only refuges hosting districts.
He explained that the influx of refugees into Uganda from neighbouring countries such as South Sudan, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo among other countries has greatly affected the country’s forest cover in some parts of the country.
“Our trees have been harvested randomly by both the hosting communities and the refugees; that is why we are coming up with this initiative of working with the local government to ensure that more trees are replanted in those depleted forest reserves,” he said to ChimpReports.
Musamali added that both refugees and the host communities depend on forests for biofuel which is the key source of energy.
Forests also provide timber for making furniture thus a source of income to both refugees and the hosts.
The most affected central forest reserves that need more attention, according to NFA boss, include Maramagambo central forest reserve in Raka District and Bugoma forest in Hoima district.
Bugoma forest has been greatly affected by the refugees settling in Kyangwali refugee settlement camp.
Other districts where the trees will be planted are Arua and Yumbe in West Nile.
Yumbe has been mainly invaded by refugees fleeing the conflicts in South Sudan.
The district has one of the largest refugee settlement camps: Bidibidi has a population of about 270,000 South Sudanese.
Currently Uganda is hosting the highest numbers of refuges in Africa, and the third largest globally.