KIU, Western Campus - According to a 2010 article published in the African Journal of Ecology, titled Status of Forests in Uganda, trees, forests and woodlands cover about 14% of Uganda’s land surface. Over the last 30–40 years, growth in human population and corresponding increase in demand for forest products for domestic and industrial use, expansion of agricultural land, illegal settlements and weak forest management capacity have adversely affected the status of natural forests in Uganda, particularly the biodiversity.
Until recently, little attention had been paid to development of commercial forests which should have provided alternative forest products and services to relieve the pressure on natural forests and conserve biodiversity.
The term forest refers to a type of vegetation dominated by trees most of which at maturity are more than 5 m tall and establishes a minimum tree canopy cover of 30% according to a 2008 National Forestry Authority report.
Of the total of 4.9 million hectares of forests and woodlands in Uganda, 64% (1, 265, 471 ha) are found outside the Permanent Forest Estate (PFE), (land set aside for forestry activities in perpetuity, managed by private landowners and regulated by local governments).
The current status of forests in Uganda is jointly caused by degradation and deforestation during the past century.
The cause of degradation and deforestation include breakdown in law and order between 1970 and 1986, conversion to agricultural land and other land uses, increase in demand for forest products for domestic and commercial purposes, higher demand for construction and furniture timber and weak law enforcement and policy implementation.
There is therefore the need for all stakeholders to jointly address these issues if the fate and livelihoods of future generations are to be secured.
And as part of the stakeholders in this national and patriotic drive, it is the duty of each one of us to at least plant a tree today.
Happy National Tree Planting Day to you all!
Additional reporting by Collins Kakwezi
Picture credit: Silverback Gorilla Tours