KAMPALA —Ugandans especially the local communities have been rallied to join efforts to conserve the country’s natural resources—putting major emphasis on wildlife and forests.
The message was sent out as the country celebrated wildlife day on March 3 under the theme “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet.”
The scientific celebrations were held at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala under the local theme “Sustaining livelihoods through conservation”.
While providing a keynote address, Professor Robert Bitariho the director, Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation said that despite the importance of forests for livelihoods, the forests continue to be sacrificed to unsustainable levels.
“The use of Uganda’s forests is by and large unsustainable and leading to crisis levels,” he said, urging stakeholders to involve local communities in conservation efforts.
He indicated that on average 75% of forest produce is consumed at the household level with only 25% being traded.
This indicates how much forests mean to the survival of the local community,” he said.
“Uganda has experienced a sharp decline in forests from 24% in 1990, 14% in 2015 to probably less than 9% currently. If in 2031 the Ugandan population is at 75 million how many forests are we going to lose? he wondered.
Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director, Sam Mwandha said conservation is everyone’s role and should not be left to the government alone.
He also noted that the forest-cover in Uganda has been declining at a fast rate, noting that without forests, “our survival in jeopardy”.
“We have removed what’s essential for our environment and unfortunately if we continue, there will be a time we don’t have these resources that we need,” he said.
Mr. David Dulix the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Uganda Country Director said that the country needs strong frame work to protect forests, forest reserves, swamps and wetlands.
He however said that efforts are being done to involve local communities in the struggle.
“Things are turning around now. We have registered an increase of forest cover from 9% to 12%. That’s significant. It is clear that the message has gone and people are now beginning to adopt the best practices,” he said.
The European Union (EU) and the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States have awarded Grants worth 368,939 EUR to five organizations in Uganda to address biodiversity conservation needs.
The funds availed through the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative and the BIOPAMA Action Component (AC), aim to alleviate impacts caused specifically through the pandemic.
Three of the five grantees in Uganda namely, The Environmental Governance Institute (EGI), Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), and the Rhino Fund Uganda are implementing a range of activities including diversifying livelihoods to absorb the loss of tourism income, implementing health protocols and monitoring to protect gorillas, and clearing invasive species to secure rhino habitat.