By Agnes Nantambi
Ugandans have been told to stop buying charcoal, and opt for other available sources of energy, in order to save the forest cover.
Environment state minister Flavia Munaaba Nabugere said that a new drive in this line will curtail increased levels of deforestation, where trees are felled for charcoal and fuel.
Speaking at a launch of key environment project recently, the state minister said charcoal buyers motivate sellers to clear more forests, even with other sources of energy available.
Rising global temperatures, she said, have greatly impacted on human societies and biodiversity, which calls for the need for people to be more responsible with they handle the environment.
Environment experts say that curbing deforestation helps to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gases, a belief also shared by the Ugandan minister.
“Everyone should abandon buying charcoal, resort to other sources of energy and at the same time preach the gospel of planting trees right from your door step,” she said.
The launch of the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation project (REDD+) took place at Makerere University School of Food Science.
She said her ministry was leading the negotiations of the REDD+ project in Uganda under the forest carbon partnership facility of the World Bank.
In this light, the environment ministry has drafted the REDD+ readiness preparation proposal to conduct pilot demonstration projects.
The new university project, she said, will help to fill the niche of developing capacity of university academicians to implement the project activities and fill knowledge gaps.
Munaaba called for a national forest monitoring system for effective implementation of project activities.
Her advice to academicians was that they should act, and not dwell on theory, especially in planting trees, protecting the wetlands and conserving the ecosystem.
University vice chancellor, Prof Dumba Sentamu attended the launch.
He said the project will provide resources for strengthening capacities of the universities to implement their mandate.
“Makerere University is very privileged to be associated with these capacity building efforts whose activities are going to span the entire region.”
Prof. John Tabuti, a lead investigator on the benefits of plants and how they can be conserved, said the five-year project was initiated to build capacity and generate knowledge.
He is from the department of forestry biodiversity and tourism.
“This project is for training university staff although it has a small component of training civil societies. We are hopeful that Makerere will have a chance to receive 14 PhDs 42 Master and two Postgraduates,” he said.
He explained the project, which is funded by the government of Norway under the (NORHED) at about $3m will be distributed between Makerere University and the University of Dar-es-salaam of Tanzania with much focus on training university staff.
Tanzania will have a chance of getting 6 PhDs and 12 Masters.
“Close to 60 pieces of researches are to be undertaken and will help to develop policies that are going to enhance livelihoods of vulnerable communities most especially sharing information which is well packaged,” said Prof. Tabuti.
The project will help formulate a one-stop centre for collection of knowledge and information sharing before being disseminating to other parts of the world.