Rural communities benefitting from tree plantation establishment support
Exuberant, filled with ambition and great prospects for a bright future, Edward Wandera, 41, believes that his investment in tree growing will be one of the things to make him a “rich man” in his lifetime. A roads inspector with the Hoima District Local Government, Wandera lives in Kaabale village, Mparo sub-county, Hoima District, where he started planting trees five years ago, with only two acres. The father of 11 children was able to harvest some of the trees to make firewood for sale, sold timber and used part of it in constructing three one-bedroom houses which he lets out. He has also comfortably afforded a decent education for four of his school-going children, the eldest of whom is a second-year university student. Wandera’s fortunes from tree growing are greatly attributed to Plant A Tree Uganda (PATU), an agro-forestry community group supported by SPGS, through its community tree planting initiatives. In previous phases of the Project, PATU members have received tree seedlings and training in areas such as commercial forest management and nursery establishment.
PATU, comprised of 107 timber tree farmers and eight communities in Kinogozi Parish in Hoima District, has received support from SPGS since the former’s establishment in 2010. In April 2018, SPGS III conducted an extensive training in plantation establishment for members of PATU community, following the group’s request to support its members to hone their skills in tree growing, especially since new communities had joined PATU. The training, held on 27 April in Hoima, aimed at giving members basic training in establishing forest plantations, ahead of SPGS III’s seedling distribution exercise for communities, during March to June 2018. It was attended by about 50 members.
According to Beatrice Shepherd Katabarwa, PATU Programme Coordinator, “it was important to have this training because a new community- Kiziramfumbi, had joined PATU, over a year ago and needed to match its skills with those of members in other communities so as to benefit fully from tree growing”. The training was in form of on-site demonstration and practical sessions, during which members carried out site-species matching, land clearing, lining out, pitting and proper planting. Katabarwa added that the training was beneficial to the members, most of whom were able to identify their preferred tree species for planting. For Wandera and his fellow members, the training “was timely as it would help members to avoid a lot of future mistakes which would in turn enable them attain fast-growing and high yielding plantations, established to quality standards”.
Although the community faces a number of challenges including: lack of proper tools for forest operations and long droughts, PATU plans to continue helping community groups to plant trees, including indigenous, ornamental and medicinal trees for income generation. Through SPGS III, FAO will distribute tree seedlings to at least 212 rural community groups, targeting establishment of about 4 000Hectares (Ha) of forest plantations by 2020.
Edward Wandera (kneeling)- PATU member demonstrates to his colleagues how to plant a tree seedlings