SPGS III Steering Committee recommends fast-tracking of national standards for forest service providers in Uganda
The Steering Committee of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) Phase III Project called for accelerated development, review and adoption of national standards for tree nursery operators and forest contractors as a means of ensuring supply of quality inputs, implementation of recommended operations and promoting high quality outputs from the forestry sector. The appeal was made by the Project’s Steering Committee Chair and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water and Environment, Alfred Okot Okidi, during the Committee’s fourth meeting held on 25 January 2018 at Nyabyeya Forestry College in Masindi District.
Okot Okidi noted that the SPGS III Project has developed a range of standards for forestry service providers, including, standards for tree nursery certification, forest contractor certification standards as well as standards for forest plantation establishment. Therefore, through a working agreement with FAO/SPGS III Project, the Forestry Sector Support Department (FSSD) of the Ministry of Water and Environment will review these in an effort to nationalize them. It is expected that upon the line Minister’s approval of the standards, they will be published in the Uganda Gazette as a first step to securing legislation to govern the work of forest sector service providers. In the absence of these national standards, FSSD cannot ably enforce recommended forest operations through the services of nursery operators and forest contractors. FSSD and SPGS III will also work together to map public and private tree plantations in the country so as to ascertain the available forestry resources in Uganda.
The Steering Committee meeting was attended by representatives from the European Union, National Forestry Authority and Uganda Timber Growers Association, all of whom are members of the SPGS III Steering Committee. Also present were officials from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the SPGS III grant managers.
FAO Representative in Uganda, Alhaji Jallow, noted FAO’s commitment to supporting the Government of Uganda to improve livelihoods through strengthening of the commercial forestry sector in Uganda. SPGS III is a project of the Government of Uganda, funded by the European Union and implemented by FAO.
Aloys Lorkeers, Head of Sustainable Development at the European Union (EU), reiterated EU’s commitment to supporting the forestry sub-sector, promoting sustainable environmental management and working with the private sector along the forestry value chain processes.
During the meeting, SPGS III Project Coordinator, Leonidas Hitimana presented a progress update on implementation of SPGS III. The meeting also discussed key issues in commercial forestry value addition.
The meeting participants then toured Nyabyeya Forestry College, the only institution in Uganda which offers practical oriented technical forest training at diploma and certificate levels, plus other short courses in forestry. They also visited E.T. Dominion Enterprises in Masindi District, a private commercial tree plantation supported by SPGS III and Luwero Environment Management Association (LEMA), a community-based Organization (CBO) in Wobulenzi town, Luwero District. LEMA, operates in 15 communities in five sub-counties in Luwero district and has been a beneficiary of all phases of SPGS, since 2005. The community has planted over 200,000 seedlings with support from SPGS. In Phase III so far, SPGS has supported Nsawo Village, under LEMA, with 34 585 seedlings of pines (Pinus caribaea), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus grandis and E. Clones) and Musizi (Maesopsis eminii), to plant a total land area of 28 Hectares (Ha).