Uganda will have no forest cover by 2050 unless drastic measures are taken to reverse the massive felling of trees to feed the booming construction business in the country, according to forestry experts. While it is a good and commendable thing that the economic growth has boosted the construction business, it is at a very great cost to the nation.

It goes without saying the immense contribution that forest cover has on climate, especially rainfall distribution which is critical for food security. The fact that these same forests are being cut down on a massive scale, in some cases with collusion of public servants, paints a very bleak future for the fast growing population whose food needs keep on growing each year.

With an over 3% growth in the Ugandan population, experts have estimated that the Ugandan population will be 150 million by 2050. Considering also that 60% of this population is currently below the age of 16, this means that by the time the current population is 5 times its current size, it is estimated that there will be no forests!!! I can only imagine the extreme food shortages such a large population will be faced with.

While these are only estimates, I’m not overly concerned with the population growth that much given the fact that Ugandans have more access to education. This means that, with greater knowledge about family planning, the population growth rate is likely to decline as more Ugandans are educated. However, I do not see that happening any time soon with the tree-cutting bonanza. Also, the gestation period of trees is quite long that some of the damage being meted out is irreversible in the short run.

I’m therefore proposing a National Tree Planting Day that will be observed by all Ugandans. Sensitization should be started early enough and people provided with seedlings in preparation for the exercise. It should be compulsory for every Ugandan to plant a tree, including the very young whose parents will be tasked with the responsibility of planting the trees until they are old enough to do it themselves. This will instill a culture of nature conservation at a very tender age. The exercise should be carried out in nearby forest locations, in schools, homes and public areas in the towns and cities.

This would mean that over 30 million trees would be planted per year. This would increase with the population growth and could be slowed down after a period of time when the experts feel the current trend has been reversed.

However, this doesn’t negate the fact that the tree-cutting bonanza needs to be curtailed. There is need for vigorous and radical measures to control the deforestation in this nation.

For God and my Country,

Charles A. O. Makmot