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Sunday, April 16, 2017

#Uganda National Forest Authority wants sh.32.5B to restore forest they cut down


Presenting their budgetary requirements for priority activities towards sustainable management of Central Research Forest to the committee of Parliament on natural resources, NFA executive director Michael Mugisa said that the authority needs special financing to handle four critical areas to address environmental degradation.

The areas are; increasing involvement of the population in tree planting, restoring degraded natural forests in forest reserves, re-surveying and demarcation of CRF boundaries and forest plantation development.

The NFA team was led by Mary Goretti Kitutu, the state minister for environment.

Mugisa and his team faced the heat when several MPs challenged NFA on the sustainability of the authority and the mode of their law enforcement in respect to encroachers.

The authority also almost ran into trouble when they failed to produce the certificate of compliance, a requirement for budget approval, with some members saying the meeting should end.

Their luck, however, came when the chairperson Alex Byarugaba allowed them to proceed but requested them to produce the certificate early next week.

Anne Maria Nakabirwa, Woman MP Kyankwanzi district, requested Mugisa to provide the committee with a business plan.

She asked for the purpose of the authority and its goals, reasoning that the authority has received a lot of support from agencies like the World Bank.

"In addition to environmental protection, it is a business," she argued. "It is supposed to be self-sustaining. The problem has been corruption."

Syda Bbumba, MP Nakaseke North and former minister for finance, supported the self-sustaining model, asking the authority what efforts it was taking to generate revenue.

Bbumba advised the authority to help encroachers convert from their current activities into agro-forestry.

"These people have nowhere to go," she said.

Winnie Masiko, Woman MP for Rukungiri district, wondered why disease control was not being catered for yet it is a big problem in her district.

On her part, Minister Kitutu advised that the soil should be replenished with organic matter although she did not elaborate on the process.

Fredrick Angura, Tororo South MP, advised NFA on the breeding of quick-maturing trees.

Mugisa then requested the committee to at least provide funding to the two most critical areas: boundary opening and community tree planting.

He revealed that President Yoweri Museveni had directed them to work on forest restoration.

Uganda has been losing about 90,000 hectares of forests every year.

Forests are important in environmental regulation, absorbing much carbondioxide and releasing oxygen, the reason they are referred to as the "lungs of the earth".

Mugisa promised to avail the committee with updates next week. 
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