Environment: Uganda City of Gulu Launches Massive Tree-planting Campaign

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While he jokingly declined a playful invitation to join the run, Gulu Arch Catholic Diochese Bishop John Baptiste Odama gave his blessings.

GULU-Uganda--Experts are warning that global climate change is closely linked to agriculture, the World’s major source of nutritive food. They want the world to prevent global temperature rise above two  degrees Celsius (35.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial level to prevent reaching a tipping point where food security can no longer be achieved with ease.

It is already evident that climate change is manifesting in agriculture sector in several ways such as extreme floods and drought. New breeds of pests and diseases have also emerged as a result of changes in environmental conditions resulting from accumulation of green house gases notably carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. To reverse this trend, the world’s major emitters of green house gases have been put to task to assist developing nations tackle adverse effects of climate change in Agriculture.

Under the mitigation and adaptation objective, developing nations are provided Climate finance to undertake several projects including afforestation and reforestation, mass city transportation, clean energy infrastructure development to mention but a few.

In Uganda, government is targeting 22 percent emission cut to achieve green growth in its national action plan to mitigate climate change. Eng. Terence Odonga, the Gulu city engineer says in Uganda everybody thinks that protecting the environment only involves protecting the wetland.

Eng. Odonga says to support climate change; farmers should use the valleys and upland meaningfully. By doing this, we can reverse environmental hazards. He says as Gulu is preparing for Green growth, Gulu city will enhance productivity by creating incentives for greater efficiency in the use of natural resources, reducing waste and energy consumption.

“We will have to sensitize Gulu community about tree planting for money as a way of fighting climate changes. We want them to embark on serious tree planting program to replace trees cut down for charcoal especially along newly constructed roads,” Eng. Odonga emphasized.

The municipality on July 9, 2016 hosted a regional marathon to promote environmental conservation in which Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi took part. Code named “a marathon for greening Gulu city”, more than 5,000 tree seedlings were raised and planted in schools and other public places to encourage surrounding communities to adopt the same. A similar activity championed by charity group Irene Gleeson Foundation, with estimated 5Million tree seedlings happened in Kitgum district, some 100s Kilometers North East of Gulu Town on July 22nd.  

Prominent regional and national policy makers attended the function. Richard Todwong, the Deputy Secretary General of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party revealed government position to mitigate climate change by exploring alternative sources of energy to mitigate ecological destruction. He said poverty reduction is key on their agenda to encourage citizens to deriving livelihoods from the environment in a sustainable manner.

According to Mr. Todwong, poverty is preventing majority of the population in Acholi sub region from utilizing natural gas, electricity and other energy efficient cooking facilities which explains the mushrooming promotions encouraging the use of efficient energy cooking stoves.

Acholi Paramount Chief Rwot David Onen Achana II officially launched the Gulu Go Green Environment campaign as part of a global campaign on climate change; he applauded the organizers and participants for their noble cause towards protecting the environment. “My appreciation goes to CEED Uganda for their contributions towards the Gulu Go Green marathon, you have created awareness since 2011 that the environment is changing by the day and that it is becoming more aggressive towards humanity," he said, referring to CEED, a Canadian-based non-profit. "The morethan 3,000 residents gathered here today responded to your call for us to preserve humanity and the environment. Thank you very much.” His comments were greeted with thunderous applause.

These activities are not isolated across the country. They are clear testimonies that campaigns against climate change are already reaching far and wide across the globe.

Mr. Luwum Bernard, the Program Manager for Community Empowerment Education and Development (CEED), the Organization behind the Gulu Go Green Marathon said they contributed many of the tree seedlings from nursery beds they initiated in most secondary schools around Gulu city.

Some of the largest nursery beds were established in Sir. Samuel Baker School, St. Joseph College Layibi, Sacred Hearth Girls School and Gulu High Secondary where environment clubs are most active.

“CEED is challenging each individual resident to rise up and be a climate smart activist undertaking environmental campaigns towards a green future economy. We believe inspiring a green movement will end up in a friendly and sustainable environment for us, our children and grandchildren,” Mr. Luwum said.

Uganda has a total forest cover of 2,988 hectares, an equivalent of 15% of total land area. Environmentalists have raised a red flag over its degradations and risk of total loss unless deliberate actions are taken.

Martin David Aliker, a community leader in Gulu district believes that tougher laws at local government levels can help protect and preserve the environment. “Such laws will give incentives for more people to plant trees. And the ultimate agenda to plant trees within the homesteads must be facilitated for the maiden Gulu Go Green Action Plan to succeed” elaborated Martin Aliker.

These local actions are in tandem with the global Climate actions agreed in Paris in 2016 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The agreement pushes for actions at local levels that can help to tackle the global monster threatening the core existence of humanity. To facilitate the process, the treaty operationalizes the Carbon Finance as incentives for amongst others large scale projects aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradations in developing countries.   

According to World environmental experts, tackling climate change will benefit planet earth in many ways and that humanity will derive the most benefit since there is a very thin line between climate change and agriculture or poverty (Broad 1994, Reardon and Vosti 1995, Blaikie 1995).

They believe that addressing poverty will prevent further degradation. Planting new trees will lead to reduction in concentration of hazardous green house gases. The most notorious being Carbon dioxide which depletes the protective ozone layer shielding plant earth from harmful ultraviolet rays driving up global warming. 

 

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