THE PRIDE OF FOREST COVER

Forestry is a critical sector /component of the Environment that not only promotes Biodiversity conservation but greatly supports people’s livelihoods whether poor or rich. It provides substance goods like wood fuel, honey, fodder, mushrooms, medicines, fruits, edible leaves, timber, art and craft, among others as well as indirect benefits of water sheds protection, habitats to many plants and animal species plus Micro-organisms of great ecological value, land for social and spiritual sites.

With the increasing economic inequality, demands on forests and trees are raising, with about (1.2billion) people all over the world relying on forest resources for their livelihood. Forest resources contribute directly to livelihoods and can complement other key components of poverty reduction through Education, food production and primary health care. Therefore, Forests and trees play an important role in the struggle to reduce poverty, so Initiatives on sustainable local forests management, as part of rural development and sustainable livelihood strategies, can support good governance and increase benefits to the poor. The challenge now is to turn this potential into reality.

However, many people are reluctant to carry on forest conservation that embraces sustainable use of existing natural and planted forests and nor are they willing to embrace Agro forestry practices  that diversifies Enterprises, people’s income as well as conserving the Environment, basing on arguments that Trees have a long gestation period and requires a wider area. With clear Tenure rights, local people can protect forests from outside encroachment, rise their local food and forest security and enter into business contracts. This can be supported by the adoption of mechanisms for devolving forest rights to poor communities (like in India and Tanzania), ownership/control of village forest reserves by local and rural communities (like in Ghana and Tanzania), conditional handover of forest resources consonant with Government policy (like in Nepal, Philippines), all varying in security they offer to poor but act as stepping stone to poverty reduction, sense of ownership and hence conservation.

Therefore, Governments should always consider Economic growth alongside conservation of Environmental resources like forests, ensure independent actions of respective bodies like National forestry Authority, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Wetlands department, related Non Governmental Organizations, as well as participatory approaches in decision making , multisectoral approach in policy implementation, translation of forestry laws and policies in local languages, research on sustainable human living and strict implementation and monitoring of set laws.

Written by Siira Paul, pursuing Dip (Environmental Management) Kampala International University.

Intern at UWS. Edits by Aine Anne, UWS.