Ugandans urged to plant at least one tree annually as an individual contribution towards environmental conservation

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During the World Environment Day celebrations on June 5th, 2023, at Kololo independence grounds, the Minister for Water and Environment in Uganda, Hon. Sam Cheptoris, urged every citizen to plant at least one tree annually. The call to action emphasizes the importance of individual contributions towards environmental conservation and highlights the government’s commitment to addressing environmental challenges in the country.

The Minister for Water and Environment, Hon. Sam Cheptoris has called on each Ugandan to plant one tree per year, which translates to over 40 million trees per year, according to the current estimates of the Ugandan Population during celebrations to mark world Environment yesterday on 5th June 2023 at Kololo independence grounds.

Minister of Water and Environment Hon. Cheptoris emphasized and echoed the directive during celebrations to mark World Environment Day 2023, at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala yesterday on Monday. He said his ministry is overwhelmed by the rate at which Ugandans are cutting down trees for charcoal, firewood and clearing land for settlement without replacing them.

“This puts our country at a risk of deforestation if nothing is done, which is why my ministry is carrying out a sensitization campaign in partnership with sister agencies, such as National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), to ensure each Ugandan plant at least one tree per year,” he said.

He reiterated the need for Ugandans to respect existing environment laws, which prohibit anybody from constructing building structures in wetlands or close to lake shores or riverbanks.

“We have warned people enough against encroaching on wetlands and building along river and lake shores. What is remaining now is to enforce the existing laws to punish those who seem to be adamant, “he further warned.

Minister Cheptoris highlighted some of the challenges facing his ministry to include limited law enforcers, which allows people to encroach on public forest reserves and wetlands.

“My Ministry controls a total of 506 forests across the country, with limited enforcement officers to protect these natural features from encroachers, which is why I call on local leaders to be at a forefront in bringing to book illegal encroachers,” he added.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, while reading President Yoweri Museveni’s Speech at the function, reiterated the need for people living in hilly terrains to grow trees on hill tops and mountains to avoid soil erosion and landslides. President Museveni cautioned Ugandans against water pollution, saying the act does not only poison the water we drink but also kills fish, needed for our livelihoods.

Kampala Central Member of Parliament, Hon. Muhhammad Nsereko, advised the Government to levy heavy fines against those that pollute the environment, saying this will deter many people from engaging in such acts. He said the money collected from environment pollution fines should be put under the Environment Fund, which in turn shall be utilized to boost projects aimed at curbing environment degradation.

Mr. Francis Ogwal, the NEMA senior manager of Environment Planning and Coordination, said the plastic clean-up gesture held ahead of June 5 was part of the activities to make the World Environment Day 2023.

This year’s World Environment Day ran under the theme: “Stop plastic pollution today”.

World Environment Day is the largest global event celebrated by millions on June 5. The event led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was first celebrated on 5 June 1973.

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