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The Government of Uganda and its partners have reiterated their commitment to restoring forests and degraded lands, as well as calling for commitments and actions to reduce biodiversity loss in the country.
The call for biodiversity restoration and better management of the ecosystem was made on Wednesday, October 19 during a validation consultative meeting on the scientific study analysis of the agriculture sectors towards commitments for biodiversity Conservation in Uganda.
The high-level meeting was organized by the World-Wide Fund for Nature, Uganda Country Office, NEMA, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development among others partners.
Ms. Cecilia Menya, the Principal Energy Officer in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development who represented Permanent Secretary Ms. Pauline Irene Batebe noted that Uganda faces a great challenge in meeting its national and global commitments to protect and restore forests because the country has a high rate of deforestation.
“We have been losing about 122 000 hectares of forests each year and if we continue this way- doing business as usual and if we don’t act, we shall not have any forests by 2030,” Menya said as she read PS Batebe’s statement in verbatim.
She noted that dealing with the problem of loss of forests and biodiversity requires innovative approaches, especially since the country has made ambitious commitments to restore its forest cover.
She said that the Ministry of Energy and selected partners including WWF Uganda are jointly implementing a project in facilitation of commitments for biodiversity dubbed BIODEV2030.
“The overall goal of BIODEV 2030 is to stop biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve its restoration by 2050,” she said.
“The rate of exploitation and use of biomass resources currently outstrips its sustainable supply. This situation has resulted in several undesirable effects including rampant environmental damage, micro-climate changes, Biodiversity loss and evident land degradation in areas where most of the biomass is mined either for firewood or for charcoal production,” she said, calling for improvements in cooking technologies, utilization of sustainable fuels and modern technologies for a big positive impact on energy utilization in addition to offering a set of other co-benefits.
She commended the long-standing partnership between the WWF and the Government of Uganda, whose basis she said is “the common understanding and respect for the idea of protecting forests while promoting a sustainable use of forests and forestry products”.
“We appreciate the efforts of WWF in mobilizing resources and for effectively coordinating and concluding the studies, and for the long and fruitful partnership they have had with my Ministry the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development,” she added.
On his part, WWF Uganda ag. Country Director Simon Peter Weredwong “the world needs urgent response to restore the ecosystem, including investing in tree planting and forest protection”.
Weredwong emphasized the need to invest, adopt and promote the use of alternative sources of cooking energy.
According to a study by WWF Uganda under the BIODEV 2030 project, Uganda is one of Africa’s richest countries in biodiversity despite its relatively small size. It has diverse ecosystems consisting of forests, wetlands, rangelands, lakes and rivers. The country has 53% of the world’s mountain gorillas, 11% of the global recorded species of birds, 7.8 % of global mammalian species, 19% of Africa’s amphibians and 14% of African reptilians.
WWF is implementing the BIODEV2030 project with an aim of establishing voluntary commitments to be shared and implemented by relevant stakeholders as a complement to the enforcement of the legal framework on stop biodiversity decline by 2030 and to restore biodiversity by 2050. This is done through multi-stakeholder dialogue and science-based assessment.