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Communities Vow to Plant More Trees After Witnessing more value from Value-addition Technologies

WWF Uganda is playing a leading role in demonstrating efficient thin kerf value-addition technology for conversion of commercial trees into good quality timber among other market-led conservation incentives.

Uganda has registered a 2% gain in tree cover in the previous year, attributed especially to commercial tree planting (MWE, 2019). The expansion of tree planting was driven by incentives from state and non-state agencies, as well as financial expectations from sale of diversified and value-added tree products.  In order to sustain this momentum, tree farmers must see the value in terms of value- added products and financial benefits from their investments.   

WWF Uganda is playing a leading role in demonstrating efficient thin kerf value-addition technology for conversion of commercial trees into good quality timber among other market-led conservation incentives.

In addition to supporting the process of developing the District Forest Plans (DFPs), earlier this year, WWF supported four Tree Growers and Wood Value Chain Cooperatives with entry level band sawmills (woodmizer Lx50) in the districts of; Kisoro, Kasese, Rubirizi, Mitooma and Rukungiri all in the Albertine Graben.

For the last two weeks, the Forest Markets Transformation Manager has been working with the cooperatives and Districts Forestry Services to conduct a training for the teams of young people who are engaged in operating the sawmills. The field training covered workplace safety and site planning, safe logging on slope, appropriate crosscutting to get the best out of every stem, log planning, equipment maintenance, appropriate sawing as well as saw blade sharpening and setting.

During the training, communities living in the Albertine Graben have pledged their commitment towards upholding the new practices of adding value to the timber products as an intervention to increase gains from farms, create jobs for young people and sustainably increase tree cover in the area.  

According to the chairman Kasese Timber Growers and Wood Value Chain Cooperative, Aprunale Bwambale, the forest market transformation intervention has boosted the tree value chain and the cooperative has been able to produce quality timber and increase the amount of timber gained per from a woodlot.

“We hire out the machine and this translates into earning of an average of 3 million Uganda Shillings per month. After harvesting the mature trees, we support the member to re-plant as a sustainability measure” he said.

Aprunale added that community members are now realizing and learning that planting a forest is not only for conservation but also for business like any other money-making venture and this has attracted more numbers to join the cooperative in tree growing.

For a one Siira Muhindo who is using the Sawmill from Kasese says that from a woodlot where he would get about 800 pieces of timber, he is now able to get more 1200 pieces of timber from the same area.

 The Kasese Senior District Forest Officer, Wilberforce Bwambale, affirmed that the local government is determined to support the cooperative in all aspects to boost tree growing in the area. He also asked cooperators to become partners in promoting commercial tree planting and keep the gains of tree cover positive.

“The intervention promotes recovery and gain per tree to timber traders and tree farmers and therefore encourages more planting. Atleast 6 youth have been employed per machine and this means they are also earning indirectly from tree growing in our district hence tackling and addressing the poverty issues in Kasese,” said Bwambale.

Bwambale also noted that efficiency has improved as the cooperative is using running meter system, sawing short logs to control effects of taper and bends and therefore increasing recovery per tree.

According the Forests and Market Transformation Manager, Harold Turinawe, WWF’s efforts towards growth of the wood value chain for sustainability aim at supporting the cluster timber traders and growers’ cooperatives in the different districts in the Albertine regions to serve as Market Transformation Centers that will demonstrate quality processing, efficiency of production and play a leading role in responsible timber trade.

Turinawe, added that after the training in especially appropriate crosscutting and re-sawing offcuts, the users will be able to saw short logs of various sizes and therefore increase recovery.

 “We supported the development of District Forestry Plans (DFPs) as formal policy document to give direction for development of forestry sector and also as tools for the district forestry service to mobilise support from all stakeholders including the private sector. In almost all the plans, value-addition and increasing value from trees on farm is emphasized as the only sure way to make tree planting very attractive and to spur Forest Landscape Restoration,” he noted.

The manager further advised cooperators not just to plant trees but observe all good practices starting from good seed and grow trees that will give future sawlogs that are big, straight and therefore give more value.

According to Arthur Twinomjuni, the Senior District Forestry officer Rukungiri district, there is self-observed better efficiency in fuel consumption, better recovery and good daily output, reported by the users.

He said that already the users report that they use full tank (7 litres) of LX 50 to cut 105 - 120 pcs of timber depending species compared to producing 50pcs for the same volume of fuel using motorized chain saws.

Twinomujuni further noted that tree growers also get more timber from their small to medium logs than they used to get with motorized chain saws (where they would get 7pcs, they now get 9-10pcs) which is approximately 20% gain per tree”
© Happy Ali
One of the female trainees trying out the sharpening machine during the training in Kasese