MASAKA: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Masaka on Tuesday March 21st, joined the rest of the World to commemorate the United Nations Forestry Day with a call upon the Masaka civil/city authorities to priotise much more on forestry planting/preserving trees and put in place effective laws that will help to abate the conflict that often exists between trade-politics-forestry.
While speaking on behalf of the Bishop of Masaka Severus Jjumba as Chief Guest at Kitovu Cathedral Parish, the Masaka Diocese Pastoral Co-ordinator and Chairperson of Caritas Maddo board Fr. James Ssendege called upon Parishes in the diocese to liaise with Caritas Maddo to promote effective forestry programs rooted in SCCs/the family.
Fr. James Ssendege said we must embrace new ways of substituting wood by exploring alternative means of fuel, paper and plastic recycling, substituting paper use with online media, etc and commended Caritas Maddo for the attempts made so far in this regard.
“As we celebrate the 10th UN World forestry day, the catholic church in Masaka must recommit herself to plant and preserve trees and forests. We re-echo also the stringent diocesan policy on natural forests on all diocesan lands. We ask everyone in a special way to employ the opportunity of waste plastic recycling initiative in Masaka,” he said.
He added that the Church celebrates trees and forests in a very special way with a recall on the untouchable tree in the Garden of Eden, whose touching brought trouble to the world. He said trees have a component of untouchable and this is also acknowledged by the African (Ganda) culture because there are trees you just won’t cut according to the taboo and Pope Francis in a special way brought to the fire the vital role of a sound ecology of all biodiversity for a habitable planet.
Fr. Raphael Ssemmanda, the Director Caritas Maddo in Masaka Diocese said a lot has been said and put on paper but nothing has been implemented in Uganda. He asked government of Uganda through the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to adopt a policy of accounting for trees destroyed during road construction and other infrastructural developments and replant the exact number of trees.
“A number of laws and policies were put in place, campaigns to plant trees have been launched but with implementation. Whoever cuts a tree is equivalent to someone killing a human being,” he said
Masaka Diocese commemorated the World forestry day under the theme: “Forests and Health, healthy forests for healthy people” and also launched a campaign to plant 1.5million trees across the diocese. The tree planting exercise was launched by replacing trees along Kitovu Cathedral road which were cut down during the reconstruction of the said road recently.
World Forestry Day or International Day of Forests is observed every year on 21 March. The day is recognised to create global awareness among people about the importance of forests for the survival of living beings.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. Countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.
There are countless benefits of forests in our lives. Some of these include providing food, purifying air, providing resources, helping in combating climatic changes, poverty alleviation, providing life-saving medicines, maintaining ecological balance, and many more.
Reckless and unprecedented deforestation, forest fires, droughts, pests, and several other factors are posing a serious threat to forests. If not controlled on time, these factors will not only affect the climate but also hinder the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations.
According to the Global Forest Watch, In 2010, Uganda had 6.93Mha of tree cover, extending over 29% of its land area. In 2021, it lost 49.2kha of tree cover, equivalent to 23.5Mt of CO₂ emissions. From 2000 to 2020, Uganda gained 68.4kha of tree cover equal to < 0.1% of the global total.
By Nsubuga Robert and