By Evelyn Masaba: Over the years, the thick vegetation that was covering the countryside of Uganda has gone down by almost 50%. Every year, the country loses a huge chunk of forests is lost to encroachers which has created an imbalance in the weather seasons that Uganda experiences throughout the year.
There are of course several reasons that have led to the encroachment:
Land grabbing, population increase that have started destroying one of the most diverse ecosystem on the continent.
Between the early 90s and 2000s, Uganda has lost over 5 million hectares of forest cover throughout the country which number increases by the year.
Most of the forest reserves are handed over on a silver plate to future investors that have squandered away the forests and destroyed the rest around the factories with the residue from their activities.
Do we understand why forests are important to our environment though?
Reduction of Carbon Footprint.In any healthy environment, there has to balance between the carbon dioxide and Oxygen compounds. Trees help and can assist prevent catastrophic climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide which is mostly stored below the ground within the roots and exhaled by human beings. Oxygen is important, given it is what human beings rely on to live.
Regulates LandslidesWhen you see a forest's root network, you will notice that it stabilizes half of the soil, holding together the entire ecosystem's foundation against erosion by wind or water. Not only does deforestation disrupt all that, but the ensuing soil erosion can trigger new, life-threatening problems like landslides and dust storms.
Medicinal and Food PropertiesMost of the tree species in our forests provide the general population with food that has been eaten for generations, as well as provide ingredients for the natural healing products in our medicines that keep us healthy and well. For example, the commonest “mululuza,” mango trees are used for medicine and food respectively. Mango tree leaves plus it's berk can be boiled and drunk for medicine.
Homes To Nature
Yes, to us trees are just the many leafy plants but they are homes to a variety of different animals on the Earth, the act as nesting grounds for bird, wild animals such as wolves. This means destruction of forests renders all these creatures homeless.
Flood ControlTree roots are key allies in heavy rain, especially for low-lying areas like river plains. They help the ground absorb more of a flash flood, reducing soil loss and property damage by slowing the flow.
Provides MaterialHalf of the world’s raw materials come from our forests; the timber we use in construction, woodwork used for furniture, art among so many other. Using them means we have to cut down some of the trees but that doesn’t mean we do not plant many more others to take their place.
The National Forest Association and the other concerned bodies in charge need to take a stand and educate several Ugandans as to why the forests shouldn’t be cut down. The laws put into place should also be also properly implemented and understood by the people.
By Evelyn Masaba