FAO-SPGS III joins Uganda Government to launch tree planting campaign in schools

Education institutions such as schools and commercial establishments like hotels and factories are among major consumers of fuel wood energy in Uganda; a situation that has contributed to deforestation. Moreover, forests provide more than 90 percent of Uganda’s energy requirements, in the form of fuelwood and this is expected to remain the major source of energy in Uganda for the near future. It is against this background that the Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and the Ministry of Education and Sports, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), initiated the National Greening Campaign, to promote tree planting and establishment of woodlots in schools and tertiary in intuitions in Uganda.

The National Greening Campaign was launched on 4 October 2019 at Ngetta Girls’ Primary School in Lira district. The nation-wide campaign will see the country plant 500million trees in a period of five years, through establishment of fuel wood plantations in schools and restoration of degraded forest landscapes. The campaign will also engage local leaders and school administrations, to nurture students to plant trees, love and protect forests and the environment.

Speaking at the launch, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Environment- Alfred Okot Okidi, noted that the initiative will contribute to Uganda’s pledge under the Bonn Challenge, to restore 2.5million hectares of degraded landscapes, while helping education institutions to manage their own fuel wood sources. “Institutions spend 20-30 percent of the total school’s budget on fuelwood”, he said. “It is important that we groom a responsible and environmentally conscious generation and support schools to establish their own woodlots to reduce environmental degradation, cut the costs of running schools and increase forest cover”, he added.

Other similar initiatives by the Ministry include Reducing of Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), Farm Income Enhancement and Forest Conservation Program (FIEFOC), the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) and community tree planting. Currently in its third phase, the FAO/SPGS III Project is implemented by FAO, with funding from the European Union. To kick-start the National Greening Campaign, FAO, through SPGS III, will establish and maintain fuelwood plantations in six schools in Lira district, namely: Ngetta Girls’ Primary School, Ngetta Boys’ Primary School, Comboni College School, Leo Atubo College, Unity College and Bishop Tarantino Girls’ School. The woodlots will have diverse tree species for fuelwood (Eucalyptus and Pine), timber and nutrition needs (mango, guava, cashew nut and jackfruit) A key component of the SPGS III Project focuses on establishment of woodlots in institutions and rural communities that heavily rely on fuel wood, targeting about 6 500hectares planted by 2021.

“We are facing a climate emergency; a race we will lose if we do not seriously take measures to reserve the trend, said FAO Representative in Uganda- Antonio Querido. “However, it is also clear that we can win if we take the necessary actions and increase of tree planting is one key action which can repair the broken climate”, he added.

Representing the Ministry of Education and Sports, Patrick Ssempala- the Assistant Commissioner for Vocational Education, called for greater awareness and education about protecting forests and nurturing young people to love the environment. The Executive Director of the National Forestry Authority (NFA)- Tom Okello Obong, noted that “Uganda has over 19 000 primary schools, 3 000 secondary schools and 300 post primary school institutions; all together accounting for 10million young Ugandans. “If each of these young people is helped to plant and look after at least three trees, we would have planted 30million trees or about 30 000 hectares; a big contribution to increasing forest cover and combatting climate change”, he said. He urged institutions with land to consider establishing woodlots.

The launch was attended by officials from the Lira District local government, Uganda Episcopal Conference and representatives of schools in the region.

Monday, October 7, 2019