Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) on Friday joined other Ministries, Agencies and Departments of Government in a National Forestry restoration campaign at Mabira forest reserve in Buikwe District. The Deputy Managing Director of National Enterprises Corporation (NEC) the business arm of UPDF Brig Ddiba Ssentogo led a team of UPDF in an activity that is part of the Tax Payers Appreciation week to take place in Kololo grounds in Kampala from 24th-26th Sept 2018.
The state minister for environment Hon Jenifer Namiyangu who was the chief participant asked the community to shame and name leaders who engage in cutting trees in forest reserves.
According to Jenifer this will help to protect the forests which are being indiscriminately destroyed by irresponsible people.
She said the Country’s forest cover has been reduced from 24% to 9% from 1990 to date. The Minister made the remarks while addressing Government Ministries, Agencies and departments (MDAs), UPDF officers and men who participated in the tree planting exercise.
She asked local leaders to sensitize the community on the dangers of destroying the environment, “change the mindset of the people towards environmental degradation”. She added.
The Executive Director of National Forestry Authority (NFA) Mr Obongo Okello said 12% of the 300 square kilometers of mabira forest cover has totally been destroyed and this must be recovered through promoting tree planting campaign.
In his speech he applauded the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces for participating in this noble cause besides keeping peace and security. “Our army has been exemplary in all walks of life and tree planting should be one of them” he observed. He called upon communities, corporate, private Sector and individual groups to join MDAs to plant trees. The MDAs are to pick up the seedlings and plant in their own locations availed at no cost at the various NFA nursery bed scattered across Uganda.
Over 10m trees will be planted through corporate social responsibility campaign of different entities to recover the lost forests through cutting and burning of charcoal.
This is one of the activities that government is spear heading to ensure that it improves the country’s forest cover which it has lost for the last several years.
The Buikwe District chairperson Mr Kigongo Mathias said the government should provide enough tree seedlings to the local community to enable them voluntarily plant trees which will help to address the climate change issues in the country. ”A number of people are willing to plant trees but are unable to access the tree seedlings”.Kigongo said.
The acting commissioner general Uganda Revenue Authority Mr. Patrick Mukiibi on behalf of URA said URA appreciates the role of tax payers in contributing to the Country’s economic development and promised that several free services like legal, tax and financial advisory, birth registration, verification of land title,r egistration of Coorporatives and medical screening will be provided next week.
The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces who turned up in big numbers were applauded for the job well done. Other private companies like Coca-Cola and NEC provided refreshments throughout the exercise.
It should be recalled that Mabira forest degradation has been an issue of controversy with some political leaders leading demonstrations for its preservation.