The European Union and the Ugandan government have signed the forest partnership roadmap to officially kick start the implementation of the shs164 billion project to boost activities aimed at helping in restoration of forest cover in the country.
Speaking during the event, the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja said it is appalling that the practice of deforestation is still ongoing on a large scale throughout the country and much of the timber produced is exported.
“Only factories processing timber within the country for plywood boards, furniture and other products should be allowed to operate. They should be the ones to operate and should have a sustainable harvesting plan that when a tree is cut, two or three are planted. It should be the standard practice around the country to protect the environment,” Nabbanja said.
The Prime Minister noted that it is appalling that the country had to wait for partnership and funds from the European Union to be able to implement forest cover restoration.
“Does it require us to have this partnership to do this work? Why are we allowing the export of unprocessed timber and import furniture expensively? Does that need a partnership with EU for us to act? Why can’t these furniture factories set up here and we export furniture? Only companies adding value to timber for import substitution and export should be allowed to operate.”
Nabbanja said the partnership between the Ugandan government and the European Union is timely in ensuring the country brings an end to deforestation.
“There is political will for implementation of this project but to the technical wing of government, you should know it is not going to be business as usual. Delivering this roadmap with the agreed timeframe is a good sign we can count on each other to have this partnership implemented. I thank the EU for its renewed collaboration with Uganda.”
“Therefore this partnership is our committed to stop forest lost and reverse forest degradation and I believe this will help us address drivers of forest loss through sustainable management and utilization of the natural resources.”
The five year partnership was signed between the Ugandan government and the EU commission during the just concluded COP 27 in Egypt in November last year and will run until 2027
According to Guillaume Chartrain, the deputy EU ambassador to Uganda, said the project aim to stimulate the forest bio-economy, creating jobs and socioeconomic development through sustainable forest-related value chains and market access but also reduce deforestation and forest degradation and facilitating the production of and trade in legal and sustainable forest products.
“The value we place on our partnership on forestry with Uganda is immeasurable because forests are essential for increasing the resilience of societies, absorbing carbon, providing timber, food, energy, medicines and livelihoods to millions of people, stabilizing soil and regulating water flows,” Chartrain said.
He said signing the roadmap is a great step towards implementation of the project.
“This roadmap will serve as a comprehensive and integrated framework for cooperation between our two parties on forests The document that will be presented has been already validated technically.”
The deputy EU Ambassador to Uganda noted that the implementation of the roadmap will be guided by openness and inclusivity where not only will the Ugandan government be involved, but also the active participation of the private sector, civil society organizations, and representatives from local communities; transparency with clear indicators and benchmarks in the implementation and demand driven process to adapt to real and emerging needs.
The State Minister for Water and Environment, Beatrice Anywar pledged government’s commitment toward implementation of the project.
“This partnership will deepen cooperation in the field of protection, restoration and sustainable use of forests aimed at enhancing the role of Uganda’s forests and forest resources in sustainable national development, addressing global challenges related to climate change and loss of biodiversity,” Anywar said.
The minister said delivering the targets the partnership with EU will help government to achieve our aspirations set under different development strategies including the ten year restoration plan for 2021 to 2031.
“This comprehensive forest partnership therefore provides a structured platform for inter-ministerial and development partner dialogue aimed at the protection, restoration and sustainable management and use of forests.I wish to reiterate the commitment of the Ministry of Water and Environment to provide the technical coordination role guided by the political leadership of the Prime Minister.”