KAMPALA: Uganda has reversed the trend of forest cover loss over the last four years, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has said.
According to NEMA Executive Director Dr. Barirega Akankwasah, for the first time since 1990, the country registered a net forest cover gain from 9% in 2017 to 13% in 2020.
“We have all the reasons to celebrate World Environment Day 2022. For the first time since 1900, Uganda has now reversed the trend of forest cover loss. We have moved from 9% (1.83MnHa) forest cover in 2018 to now 13.2% of Uganda’s land surface. It’s possible to reverse tide,” he said in a statement on Sunday, June 5, 2022.
This was on the occasion of World Environment Day.
According to NEMA, the main challenge facing the sector is pressure arising from the demand for agricultural land and demand for charcoal, firewood and building materials.
On the other hand, NEMA said wetland cover has experienced a downward trend – reducing from 15.5% in 1994 to 13% in 2020. However, of the 13% wetlands about 8% are intact while the rest is degraded, they said.
NEMA also said air pollution is another area of concern.
“Over the last five years, urban areas in Uganda have consistently registered readings that are ten times above the World Health Organization recommended levels of 2021. The key sources of air pollution in the country include the transport sector (automobiles), unpaved roads, domestic burning of biomass fuels and industrial activities,” they said.
To address the challenges facing the environment, the Government has developed a ten year Environment Restoration Plan. The country declared the next ten years as a war decade for environment restoration with a focus on further reversing forest, wetland and biodiversity loss. The target is to halt degradation in all sectors of the environment and increase forest cover to 15% by 2030.
To achieve these ambitious but attainable targets NEMA has called upon all citizens to stop encroachment on fragile ecosystems such as wetlands, forests, lake shores and river banks.
“We urge everyone to plant trees at every opportunity, restore degraded ecosystems, and avoid settling or cultivating on steep slopes. Seek guidance from respective authorities before undertaking potentially harmful activities; adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly waste management options,” NEMA said.
The national World Environment Day celebrations were held at Kasana play ground in Luweero on June 5, 2022.
The United Nations General Assembly declared June 5 as World Environment Day during the United Nations Conference on Human Environment and Development in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972. Over 150 countries participate in the celebrations each year, with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the helm.
This year, international celebrations are in Stockholm Sweden under the theme ‘Only One Earth’. The theme and Sweden as the global host, is symbolic of the 1972 Stockholm Conference that formed UNEP.