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Forests: Climate: Change
As Uganda joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Forestry Day 2015,  it is admirable that in some places around the world, forests have been preserved for over 200 years untouched, undisturbed not because the communities around do not have use for them but because they treasure how important they are to the environment.

During the recent annual international meeting organized by Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), environmental lawyers, scientists and researchers from over 34 countries  toured Suislaw National Forest in Eugene Oregon. Greenwatch's National Coordinator Irene Ssekyana, attended the meeting and was astonished by how large and tall the trees in the Suislaw National forest are. She was more surprised to learn that many of the trees were more than 200 years old.  In her own words, "Some of the trees in the Suislaw Forest fell down years ago but they have not been touched. People living in their neighborhood know the rules and stick to them."

Trees, forests and woodlands cover about 14% of Uganda's land surface. Forests are of great importance to our environment.   A forest is more than just trees; it's an entire complex, a living community. Forests are home to different species of animals, insects, birds, flora and fauna. Forests play a huge role in ecological and environmental conservation and are necessary catalysts for carbon sequestration. However the rate at which Ugandans are illegally encroaching on forests is alarming.

Over the last 3040 years, growth in human population and corresponding increase in demand for forest products for both domestic and industrial use, encroachment for agricultural expansion and settlement, and weak forest management capacity have adversely affected the status of natural forests in Uganda. This has impacted negatively on the environment leading to increased erosion, diminishing fresh water supplies and destruction of habitats for hundreds of endangered species. Tribes and cultures that have always had attachments to particular trees that are of significant importance to communities have also lost out. 

World Forestry Day is celebrated every year on 21st March to highlight and draw emphasis to the importance of forests and the scores of benefits which are gained from them.

As we celebrate today, may this years's theme FOREST : CLIMATE : CHANGE be a reminder of the great role forests play in climate change. May it also be each of our responsibilities to protect our forests like the communities of Eugene Oregon have done with the Suislaw Natural Forest.

Posted 20th, March 2015
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