By Guest Writer
OPINION: Last week, the media reported about the national policy on environment putting in place a ban on the export of timber and canceling all licenses and permits in the forests in order to protect them from massive destruction by individuals, investors, and rich businessmen, among others.
The ban on the export of timber followed a directive by President Museveni dated June 21, 2023, instructing the Prime Minister to take action to reverse the worrying trends of forestry cover degradation.
It is noted that all of these bans, including the presidential directive on wetland evacuation, have been put in place to ensure that critical biodiversity is conserved, but nothing has changed.
They have rather led to massive destructions of the forests, wetlands, and other eco-systems due to increased corruption of government officials, including poor implementation by the ministries responsible for protecting the environment, the presidential directives working on the specific class of people, especially the poor Ugandans, poor supervision by the ministries just because of the limited funds allocated to them, and failure by the government of Uganda to put in place the alternatives that can help cook their daily food, for instance, renewable energy like solar, electricity, biogas, and use of energy serving stoves, among others.
These bans have been coming at a time when most eco-systems like Bugoma forest reserves, Zoka forest reserves, and others are under big threat from encroachers, but they have not helped save the forests, wetlands, and critical biodiversity just because of the above-mentioned issues.
Therefore, this ban on the export of timber is also likely not to work like the other presidential directives he has been putting in place. This is because a lot is still lacking at this stage of implementation.
The government needs to do the following to ensure that the various bans and presidential directives are effectively working to save the critical biodiversity: strengthen the implementation plans of the various ministries working on the environment; address the issue of corruption among government officials.
Put in place alternatives for people to use for cooking in order to reduce the pressure on the forests; increase the budget allocation to improve the supervision of ministries work; and make sure that these bans and the presidential directive are working for all groups of Ugandans without discrimination.
The author is Kato Paul, a research associate and Environmental activist.
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