The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has recommended that the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to be allocated an additional Shs4 billion in the next financial year for the provision of tree seedlings.
According to Emmanuel Otaala, the Committee Chairperson, the money will cover a funding shortfall in the restoration of trees and forest coverage, where only Shs3 billion had been initially provided.
Otaala said that the committee recommends that NFA expedite the creation of the National Tree Planting Project, which is catered for in the National Development Plan (NDP III), and it is contained in a report of the committee on the ministerial policy statements and budget estimates for Financial Year 2023-2024.
The committee also recommended an allocation of Shs30 billion to the Ministry of Water and Environment to support restoration of the environment through tree planting.
“The committee was informed that the ministry requires Shs20 billion for rising tree seedlings and Shs10 billion for unpaid certificates for seedlings already supplied. Only Shs2 billion has been provided for this purpose,” Otaala said.
According to a minority report of the Committee, Kiboga District Representative Christine Kaaya requested Shs10 billion to be appropriated for establishing tree nurseries in sub-counties across the country.
“Localizing tree nurseries in sub-counties will motivate private individuals to engage in commercial forestry and agro-forestry,” Kaaya said.
Naome Kibaaju, the MP for Sheema County North, echoed the need to avail finances to promote afforestation and re-afforestation efforts in the country.
“I was recently given tree seedlings to take to my constituency, and people picked them up quickly, which shows that people have the urge to plant trees,” Kibaaju said.
Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker, encouraged MPs to establish nursery beds for tree seedlings in their constituencies as part of community corporate social responsibility, which would in turn improve forest cover.
“A nursery bed is not so costly, and it becomes easy to transport seedlings within your constituencies. For quality seedlings, we can coordinate with the Minister for Environment to give them to us,” Tayebwa said.
Beatrice Anywar, the State Minister for Environment, welcomed the proposal to allocate more funds to improve the country’s forest cover, saying it will go a long way in enabling the availability and distribution of seedlings.