TOP
Wednesday,October 21,2020 14:12 PM
  • Home
  • Archive
  • The poor need incentives to invest in tree planting

The poor need incentives to invest in tree planting

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th November 2008 03:00 AM

There are a number of laws on management and utilisation of forests, forest products and services in Uganda.

There are a number of laws on management and utilisation of forests, forest products and services in Uganda.

By Ambrose Bugaari

There are a number of laws on management and utilisation of forests, forest products and services in Uganda.

However, forests continue to be degraded at alarming rates. The latest report of a study undertaken by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) 2008 indicates that Uganda’s forest cover has reduced to 17% of total land area between 1990 and 2005.

If the current rate of annual change in forest cover (1.9%), continues without being addressed, the economy and the livelihoods of many Ugandans will be seriously affected. This has been compounded by the progressive capacity decline for agriculture on which over 80% of Ugandans depend for a living.

Although, there are a number of isolated and uncoordinated government and civil society initiatives to support tree-planting, policy emphasis is skewed on large scale commercial plantations. Opportunities exist under the National Forest Plan (2000), Forestry and Tree-planting Act (2003) and the Land Act (1998) for entrepreneurs to lease land within forest areas for 25 to 49 years to plant trees.

NFA with funding from the European Union has also put in place the Saw log Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) to promote the business of growing commercial trees in order to develop a sustainable forestry industry in Uganda.

However, reports from field visits suggest that most beneficiaries of commercial plantations support initiatives by NFA are financially capable individuals or companies.

There are limited incentives for the poor to invest in commercial tree-planting. Yet, discussions with those who have invested in commercial tree-planting indicate that it costs approximately sh1m to clear the ground, procure seedlings, pesticides and hire workers.

It should not be a blow to NFA that forest degradation is on the increase because the wealth individuals who have leased land in forest reserves are just interested in making money and are not bothered about maintaining the integrity of the natural resource base while the poor who leased land cannot afford the costs involved in commercial tree-planting.

The poor also have immediate pressing needs that cannot wait for trees to mature. In fact evidence on the ground indicates that some of the poor, who leased the land instead of planting trees, have established rice and maize gardens in forest reserves.

Therefore, while the Saw log Production Grant Scheme may create employment and provide incentives for a few who are rich to invest in commercial tree planting, its capacity to deliver on poverty eradication and sustainable forest management is highly doubted because it leaves out the poor.

The assumption that large scale commercial plantations will boost economic development which will trickle down to the poor; that it will pay taxes and reinvest its profits productively and provide jobs and income is flawed.

In light of the above, in addition to focusing on commercial tree-planting, NFA, civil society and the private sector should also provide incentives to enable the poor to invest in forest conservation and meet their short term needs.

Such incentives may take the form of forest-based enterprises and saving schemes that provide a secure place for the poor to save and borrow in modest amounts. However, for these forest-based enterprises to lead to conservation, they must be commercially viable, done on a large scale and capable of delivering significant benefits to the community.

The development of local forest-based enterprises represents an opportunity for strengthening the livelihoods of the poor, forest dependent people, at the same time providing economic incentives to conserve forests through sustainable management.

The writer is an enterprise development specialist

The poor need incentives to invest in tree planting

Related articles

ZOA
ZOA

More From The Author

More From The Author