"Plant a tree to celebrate your birthday, wedding anniversary, plant a birthday tree for Jesus or prophet Mohammed, plant trees to demarcate boundaries of your land or trees, if every Ugandan did this, just imagine how many forests we would have in years to come."
His message is very clear and yet Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister for Water and Environment of Uganda, knows it’s not an easy task. It requires a complete change in mindset, where people cease to look at trees as God –given and naturally growing, to one where they attach real value to trees, forests and the environment as a means of survival.
Kamuntu rightly notes that such transformation cannot be achieved without stronger awareness and sensitization of the citizens on the importance of forests. “They should internalize the value of planting trees, people take forests for granted, they think they will always be there because they are God-made, this must stop. A green economy requires support for re-forestation,” the minister emphasized.
This was at the launch of a new program dubbed ‘’FOREST’’, which aims at strengthening transparency, accountability and sustainable management forestry resources to benefit poor citizens.
FOREST, an acronym for Forest Resources Sector Transparency Programme is a five year programme funded by DANIDA through Care Denmark intended to address among other issues, loopholes in implementation and funding of policies, laws and regulations in the forestry sector, insufficient representation of poor and vulnerable communities dependent on forests in decision making structures on forestry management and gaps in civil society’s effectiveness in improving forestry governance.
Panos Eastern Africa will be one of the civil society organizations implementing FOREST, others being Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), Environment Alert, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU), Joint Effort to Save the Environment (JESE), and the United organization for Batwa Development in Uganda (UOBDU).
Panos will be working with selected Civil Society organizations, the media and forest communities within the Albertine region to promote debate and dialogue on key forest sector issues, build capacity of the media to profile these issues and provide platforms to forest communities to engage and influence decisions within the Forestry sector, thereby promoting transparency, accountability, responsiveness and ultimately sustainable management of forestry resources.