Parliament Demands Operationalization of Tree Planting Funds

todayJune 13, 2022

By: Kei Emmanuel Duku.  

Members of Parliament have asked the minister of Finance Matai Kasaija to operationalize Tree planting Funds in the next financial year. This, according to the MPs will aid in the planting of trees both at national and local level. In the past fifteen years, Uganda has lost her forest cover of approximately 900,000 hectors representing 12% annually, equivalent to 413 Metric tons of Carbon emission.

While adopting the motion before the floor of Parliament recently, Pakwach Woman Member of Parliament Avur Jane Pacuto said Uganda’s Forest cover has been depilated at a faster rate compared to other natural resources.
She argued that trees help in combating climate change, keeping the environment clean and absorbing poisonous substance as well as acting as a source of local herbs to the indigenous population. She further said despite been provided for, there has been no deliberate effort by the stakeholders to avail funds for forest sustainability and continuous support for tree planting in Uganda. “As part of the UN resolution during the climate change conference to reverse deforestation by 2030 and UN Sustainable Development Goal No.13 on Climate Action which member States are called upon to take urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts by 2030, there’s need for government to operationalize Tree Funds to facilitate issurance of direction for growing and planting of trees in accordance to forestry and Tree planting Act of 2003”, she said.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament representing Ora County, Biyika Songa Lawrence said under section 40 of the Forestry Act, 2003 which allows creation of Tree Funds there has been little political will even after cabinet had approved funds in 2008. Lawrence, further attributed the current global climate change to the massive deforestation of forest cover yet economies thrive on forest for energy, agriculture, food security, and tourism and in order to revise the trend there’s need to allocate funds for management of natural resources. “Why our forest are getting lost is because we have don’t have sustainable funds to manage our forests. You may be aware National forestry Authority (NFA) is managing only 506 Central forest Reserves country wide but we need this Tree Funds to help plant trees at the Community level under the District forest services and the Public land”, he said. He further echoed that part of the delays in unavailing the funds in 2006 was due to restructuring of Ministry of Water, Land and Environment, creation of National Forestry Authority and shift from Ministry of Finance citing interference from the Public finance management act among others which he said is contrary to clause 27 of the Public Finance management Act.  “The shift by the Public Finance Management act based on the letter of 2012 do not repeal the National forestry and tree planting Act, and clause 27 of the Public Finance Management act gives powers to create special funds and it does not affect the other existing funds like the roads, Tree and environment Funds” he said.

Meanwhile, Kaaja Christine Nakimwero, the Shadow Minister of Energy blamed the ministry of Water and Environment for not providing sufficient funds though, mandated by section 40 of the national forestry act of 2003. Christine believes that without providing clear audit report on challenges faced 20 years ago by the ministry in charge of forestry before, allocating the money will be mismanaged. “Why is it that 20 years down the road these funds have not been operationalized? We expect the minister concerned to update us because the climate challenge 20 years ago isn’t the same today. We also need to identify some of the gaps and fix them before creating sub committees as we wait for the money” Kaaja said.

Woman Member of Parliament from Oyam County, Alum Santa acknowledged that the high demand for fuel and settlement has led to destruction of the environment. She however said part of the money should be directed to the grassroots to strength forest departments at the lower level of government.
“When you go to the districts, there are offices in charge of forest and planting trees but they don’t have money” said Alum.  
But the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija urged the public to protect environment as no economy thrives without conserving the environment and pledged to provide Funds for the operationalization of tree planting. “This is not a joking matter. Every Ugandan must take the issue of forest and environment serious because without protecting our wetlands, forest, hills, mountains there will be no economy to talk about that one I can tell you. So money will be available but first the public will” said Matai.

However, Joan Okia said many people have been displaced as a result of climate change, and as such there is need to create public awareness at local and national level on the importance of conserving environment, planting of trees and as well create programs of planting tree in schools, Cities and Urban Centers.

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