KAMPALA – Uganda’s Vice President, Jessica Alupo has commended government departments and private sector organisations in the Running Out Of Trees (ROOTs) campaign for taking a practical approach to tree planting and striking a difference from other campaigns that have taken place before.
The VP said that at the National Plant Genetic Resources, Botanical Gardens in Entebbe as the Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with private sector players led by Uganda Breweries Limited to wit Stanbic Bank Uganda, Total Energies EP Uganda, ATC Uganda, Development Partners, and the civil society partners took part in an initiative to plant 1 million Trees across the country in one day.
The event was a show of firm commitment towards the #RunningOutOfTrees (ROOTs) Campaign whose ambition is to plant 40 million trees per year until 2026 for the first phase of the programme.
ROOTs is intended to address a looming challenge of deforestation in the country that threatens to render Uganda more vulnerable to climate-related disasters and unable to meet its wood needs by 2030, if nothing drastic is done to reverse the declining forest cover.
According to an inventory done by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) in 2019, Uganda has lost half its forestry cover in the past 30 years alone, from 4.9 million Hectares to 2.5 million Hectares.
At this event alone, over 700 trees of indigenous endangered species were planted by heads of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Intergovernmental organizations, private sector CEOs, Civil Society, cultural and religious institutions.
Some of the indigenous species to be planted include; Khaya species or mahogany, Melicia species/Muvule, Afzelia, Prunus Africana, sheanut tree, Canarium species, among others.
There were similar observations of the day across the country coordinated by the Ministry of Water and Environment regional offices, Mbale for Eastern Uganda, Kwania for Northern Uganda, Mbarara for Western Uganda.
The Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Water and Environment Mr. Alfred Okot Okidi said that whereas rate of the loss of forestry cover in the country is dire, the Ministry’s every intention is to work with the private sector, the public and other willing partners to ensure that a timely intervention like the ROOTs campaign is executed efficiently.
“The government of Uganda committed to the Bonn Challenge that confronted governments with the task of halting, reversing the worrying trend of forest loss. Here, we committed to restoring 2.5 million hectares of degraded forest landscapes by 2030. Our task is great, but this mission is achievable, through strategic partnerships with the private sector whose resources sometimes give us the means and help us spread the message wider.” He said.
The Uganda Breweries Corporate Relations Director Juliana Kagwa underscored the importance of the private sector coming together to address the deforestation challenge that does not only threaten Uganda, but the global ecosystem itself, saying that investing in tree growing may not be seen in the short term as good business, but it is good for business.
In her speech, Vice President H.E Jessica Alupo, who was representing President Museveni, credited all the ROOTs partners for taking a different and practical approach to tree planting by ensuring that the planted trees are geo-mapped and tracked until they’re fully grown.
“I thank the framers of the concept of this tree planting campaign for taking extra effort to map and follow up because that’s an all-round approach to tree planting and conservation.” She observed.
The ROOTs Campaign was launched in January 2020 as a 5-year project geared towards Soliciting commitment from the Private sector to support Government’s initiative to restore forest cover to reverse the human impact on decline of forest cover.
Over 25 million Trees have been grown in the years following the launch, even with the disruption that Covid-19 presented the campaign. The campaign also seeks to elicit commitment from the Government of Uganda to gazette a National Tree Planting Day to encourage the general public to join efforts with the government and private sector in committing to restoring, protecting and replenishing forests.