BUDGET: The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has recommended that the National Forestry Authority (NFA) is allocated an additional Shs4 billion in the next financial year for provision of tree seedlings.
According to the Committee Chairperson, Hon. Emmanuel Otaala, the money will cover a funding shortfall in restoration of tree and forest cover where only Shs3 billion had been initially provided.
“The committee recommends that NFA expedites the creation of the National Tree Planting Project which is catered for in the National Development Plan (NDP III),” Otaala said.
This recommendation is contained in a report of the committee on the ministerial policy statements and budget estimates for Financial Year 2023/2024.
The committee also recommended an allocation of Shs30 billion to the Ministry of Water and Environment to support restoration of the environment through tree planting.
“The committee was informed that the ministry requires Shs20 billion for raising tree seedlings and Shs10 billion for unpaid certificates for seedlings already supplied. Only Shs2 billion has been provided for this purpose,” Otaala noted.
In a minority report of the Committee, Kiboga District Representative, Hon. Christine Kaaya) asked Parliament to appropriate Sh10 billion for establishment of tree nurseries in sub-counties across the country.
“Localizing tree nurseries at sub-counties will motivate private individuals to engage in commercial forestry and agro-forestry,” said Kaaya.
Hon. Naome Kibaaju (NRM, Sheema County North) reiterated the need to avail finances to promote afforestation and re-afforestation efforts in the country.
“I was recently given tree seedlings to take to my constituency and people picked them up quickly which shows that people have the urge to plant trees,” Kibaaju said.
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa urged MPs to establish nursery beds for tree seedlings in their constituencies as part of community corporate social responsibility which would in turn improves forest cover.
“A nursery bed is not so costly and it becomes easy to transport seedlings within your constituencies. For quality seedlings, we can coordinate with the Minister for Environment to give them to us,” Tayebwa said.
Hon. Pius Wakabi (NRM, Bugahya County) said more emphasis should be put on preserving natural forests along with allocating financing for tree planting efforts.
“If you visited Bugoma Forest right now, it has been totally destroyed. That is why we want the ministry to focus more on protecting the natural forest cover in the country,” Wakabi said.
The State Minister for Environment, Hon. Beatrice Anywar welcomed the proposal to allocate more funds to improve the country’s forest cover saying it will go a long way in enabling availability and distribution of seedlings.
She added that the concerns about the protection of Bugoma Forest from destruction are being addressed by government.
“This matter is a thorn in our flesh and the President has made a directive to the Prime Minister to handle this issue together with the ministry. Let us stand together and save our environment,” Anywar said.
Credit: Parliament of Uganda