In a bid to promote sustainable tourism, in Eastern Uganda and mitigate Climate Change impacts, Mt Elgon Tourism Expo has urged local people to plant more trees around Mt Elgon.
This project initiated by Elgon Tourism Expo and Mt Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise [METGE] intends to support the long-term reduction of disaster risk based on climate change projections every year.
Mrs Rachael Kakungulu, the president of Mt Elgon Tourism and Business Expo said as human beings we have a responsibility to ensure that Uganda’s wilderness areas remain pristine such that the wild animals can maintain a lifestyle for sustainable tourism.
“I believe planting of trees can sustain tourism that will bring more tourists for our economic development,” said Mrs Kilama while addressing the people of Wanale sub-county at the health Centre III where some members of the Elgon Tourism Expo had gone to plant trees.
Sustainable tourism can be defined as a kind of tourism that has more benefits than negative impacts, especially relating to the environment, the economy and communities. Truly sustainable and responsible tourism should make destinations better for people to live in as well as visit.
Mrs Kilama said the main responsibilities of sustainable tourism include; protecting the environment, natural resources, and wildlife, providing socio-economic benefits for communities who live in tourist destinations, conserving cultural heritage and creating authentic tourist experiences, bringing tourists and local communities together for mutual benefit and creating inclusive and accessible tourist opportunity.
Mr Michael Sikoyo, the Executive Director METGE said enhancing capacities for Sustainable Tourism for development was a key factor for every Ugandan especially those living in the hills of Mt Elgon.
He noted that planting trees is one of the best ways to absorb the carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the atmosphere and transform it into oxygen and that this simple action by plants effectively helps to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases and thus slow down climate change.
He revealed that trees have a positive impact on the environment, as they act as natural filters, reducing air and water pollution, favoring the health of our soils and promoting wildlife life which are an attraction to many tourists.
Mr Wilson Watangwa, thenLC1 chairman Wahora village that neighbours Mt Elgon National Park said as people living close to the park, they have a responsibility of safeguarding it because it is a ‘mother’ to everyone around it even far.
He said although they need trees for building, for firewood in their homes and timber for sale, it is important to learn that sustainable tourism pays more than this.
“WE are happy that you have come from Mbale to plant for us trees and teach us about the importance of trees, I want to ask my community members to emulate this, let us start planting trees in our homes are a source of timber and firewood.
“Please let us only go to the park for forest products without destroying it for firewood and timber because this will be the destruction of tourism,” said Mr Watand gwa.
According to The Crowther Lab, the world has the capacity for 6.5 trillion trees and as of today, there are about 3.5 trillion, meaning that there is room for another 1.5 trillion (without taking up land for cultivation).