The 40,000 ha is part of the 200,000 ha which were set aside years ago for commercial tree plantation development before President Yoweri Museveni suspended issuance of tree planting licences to individuals and companies in 2008.
The Acting Executive Director of National Forestry Authority (NFA), Paul Buyerah Musamali addressing a press conference at NFA offices in Bugolobi Kampala. Photo by Ronnie Kijjambu
A total of 200,000 jobs are to be created under the new arrangement of commercial tree planting with the private sector in the Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) in the country.
The National Forestry Authority (NFA) said the arrangement is also part of the Government strategy to partner with the private sector towards the restoration of 40,000 hectares (ha) of Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) across the country.
This is aimed at reinstating degraded forests areas in the CFRs and related ecological services, increase forest cover and supply of forestry products NFA, says are increasingly scarce.
The 40,000 ha is part of the 200,000 ha which were set aside years ago for commercial tree plantation development in CFRs before President Yoweri Museveni suspended issuance of tree planting licenses to individuals and companies in 2008.
While addressing journalist at the NFA headquarters in Kampala yesterday, the authority's Ag Executive Director, Paul Buyerah Musamali said the investment will created 200,000 job opportunities for communities adjacent to CFRs in nursery management, plantation tending and protection among others. He said managing one hectare alone needs about five people.
NFA anticipates increasing the current annual rate of tree planting by the private sector from 5,000 hectares to 10,000 hectares.
Musamali said the private sector has so far planted 80,000ha out of the licensed 120,000ha which was licensed, while NFA has restored 13,000ha across the country on top.
Musamali said the current forest cover stands at 1.8million ha both on private land and protected areas.
He explained that commercial tree planting will create alternatives to feed the demand for forest products like charcoal, firewood and timber.
Uganda consumes 40million metric tons of firewood, one million metric tons of charcoal and 600million cubic meters of sawn wood (timber ready to use) per annum which puts pressure on natural forests.
NFA has also set aside 10,000 ha to allocate to communities adjacent to CFRs under collaborative forestry management approach which constitutes 5% in all forest reserves allocated for planting.
"This is to engage local communities to participate and benefit from sustainable forest management. This land will be for free under a different arrangement. Communities will be able to access livelihood opportunities through engagement with the private sector for economic development," Musamali added.
The investment is expected to attract sh140bn from the private sector into the forest sector through investing in various opportunities like eco-tourism, tree planting, bamboo plantation growing, and raising of biomass plantations or plantations for firewood among others.
Musamali said they want local governments to sensitize their people on various opportunities.
Musamali also noted that 120 illegal land titles have been cancelled in different CFRs by the Uganda Land Commission. "We have 11,000kms of boundaries and 3000 have so far bee opened while 1,000 are made of natural features," he said.
The Director Natural Forests, Levi Etwodo said they over 100 CFRs where land is going to be given out. He said they are focusing on natural species to restore the biodiversity in terms of the product they provide like Muvule and Mahogany among others towards protection of the environment.
On commercial tree planting, they focus on fast tree growing species like Pine, Eucalyptus among others for them to providing timber in the shortest time possible.
Etwodo said they give a probation period of two years out of the 25-years for someone to plant at least 50% of the area and their licenses can be cancelled if they seriously under performed.
Director Plantations, David Mununzi said they have given out 3.8million tree seedling to the public to promote tree planting. "We expect by September to have another 9,000,000 million seedlings to give out through their 38 nurseries countrywide," he said.
Director planning, Leo Twinomuhangi said the whole country was zoned according to the tree species which are suitable.
"NFA specifies the trees to plant and we have the land management unit which does a regular assessment every year and if you do not comply, the license if cancelled," he noted.
The licensees will pay between sh15, 000 and sh30, 000 in annual ground rent for each hectare to the authority depending on the location of the land