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Kabarole communities embark on tree planting campaign

By Wilson Asiimwe

Added 23rd December 2018 10:53 AM

Communities have teamed up with the district leadership to plant trees especially in public places such as schools, churches, health centers and along the banks of River Mpanga which crosses through Fort Portal town.

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Muganzi showing some of the local tree species being planted along the river banks of Mpanga

Communities have teamed up with the district leadership to plant trees especially in public places such as schools, churches, health centers and along the banks of River Mpanga which crosses through Fort Portal town.

ENVIRONMENT

Authorities and local communities in Kabarole district have embarked on a campaign to plant trees as one way of conserving the environment and protecting the banks of River Mpanga.

Communities have teamed up with the district leadership to plant trees especially in public places such as schools, churches, health centers and along the banks of River Mpanga which crosses through Fort Portal town.

Edgar Muganzi the team leader for Natural Resources Defence Initiative (NARDI) a local non-government organisation operating in the Rwenzori region said on Friday that they are giving out free tree seedlings as well as engaging the communities to plant them.

Muganzi said  they had secured funding from Protos and the government of Belgium to support the project.

He said to begin the tree planting exercise they had planted over 10,000 trees which include grevelea and other local species.

“We are working with the communities and giving them local tree seedlings for planting and I am happy that many people have embraced tree planting in the district of Kabarole,” Muganzi said.

Muganzi said since embracing the management plan, the river bank has been protected and residents fear destroying it since they are benefitting from its existence.

Grace Kagaba, a resident of Kitumba in west division said  several residents have been given trees for planting in their homes under the project.

She however decried the rampant encroachment on wetlands in the district which has led to wetland degradation.

“Laws must be enforced because the rate at which wetlands are being degraded in the district is alarming,” Kagaba said.

Richard Rwabuhinga, the Kabarole district LC5 chairman and also chairman of the Mpanga catchment management committee said the idea of tree planting will not only help to combat climate change but also mitigate other disasters.

“The Idea of planting trees along the river banks will not only protect the river banks but will also help to combat the effects of climate change,” Rwabuhinga said.

In a report by the district natural resources department, subsistence farming and animal husbandry were the most significantly dominant activities around and inside wetlands. Other activities include, sand mining, fish farming and collection of firewood.

Last month officials from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Police released a list of individuals who have encroached on wetlands and on the banks of River Mpanga.

Among those who have been implicated in the destruction of wetlands in the district is Godfrey Ruyonga, the Kabarole district wetlands officer who is wanted by the Police.

Lydia Tumushabe, the Rwenzori West regional police spokesperson said Ruyonga and others are being investigated for encroaching and destroying wetlands.

“It is true as Police we have started investigating the natural resources officer of Kabarole, Godfrey Ruyonga who has constructed a house in a wetland land, a case has been opened against him and others,” Tumushabe said.

However Ruyonga during a recent media interview denied encroaching on the wetlands and said he was being witch hunted.

“My structural plan was approved and I followed all the process I have not encroached on any wetland in Kabarole,” Ruyonga said.

Wetlands throughout the country are increasingly being encroached on due to a growing population.

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