SIR â€” I am astonished by press reports attributed to President Yoweri Museveni regarding the give-away of Ugandaâ€™s forests to sugar and oil industrial companies in the name of â€œdevelopmentâ€ and â€œindustrialisationâ€.
The present Cabinet is the most enlightened we have ever had since Independence, but is the one taking destructive decisions that will change the Pearl of Africa into a desert!
In the near future when our grandchildren shall be reduced to beggars for food from the World Food Programme and other charity organisations due to drought or similar calamities associated with todayâ€™s poor decisions, most of the present leaders will be dead and will not suffer the consequences!
Between 1986 and 1996 the NRM advocated environmental protection and a lot of work was done in schools and local councils and NGOs promoted tree planting campaigns and conservation programmes supported by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
We composed and sang songs on environment, got foreign funds and expertise for the programmes. No public function was complete if a tree was not planted by the chief guest. It appears today we are driving in reverse gear!
Soon, no public function will be complete if a tree is not cut â€œsymbolicallyâ€ by the chief guest! All of a sudden, all the seminars we conducted 15 years ago appear to have been a waste.
Resignations are rife in the forestry sector due to the apparent change of tune in high circles regarding forestry policy. Is this the vision we were clamouring for?
Why should we give up our inheritance for temporary gain? Soon the River Nile will dry up and we will blame the wrong people for power cuts. Livelihoods for the people along the Nile from Uganda to Egypt will be destroyed because of our poor choices today.
Can you imagine the outcry of millions of people gazing at the dry Nile River valley because a â€œvisionaryâ€ President decided to replace the forests with industries? Forests serve many functions. Primarily, they protect and form natural resources. Through photosynthesis, forests renew the oxygen supply in the atmosphere by absorbing atmospheric carbondioxide and moderating the greenhouse effect.
Forests provide an environment for many species of plants and animals, thus protecting and sustaining the diversity of nature. Forests clean the environment by muffling noises, buffering strong winds and stopping dust and gases.
They help regulate surface water runoff, moderate high and low temperatures and prevent soil erosion. In performing these functions, forests stabilise the climate and shape the landscape. Forests are also popular areas for relaxation and recreation. All living things, including fungi depend on forests.
There are as many as 1,500 invertebrates living on and in one ancient forest tree! Some of these species may hold the key to unlocking scientific mysteries. Each plant and animal is unique and many of these animals depend entirely on the forests.
What are the Presidential Advisers doing at the moment or are they the ones who advised him to commit this environmental sin? How I would like to see the Museveni of 1986 â€”1996. Alas! Things fall apart.
David B. Nguru
How I long for the good old days!