To mitigate the effects of climate change, government, through the Environment ministry, is set to operationalise the ‘Tree Fund’.
The initiative directed at regenerating the country’s forest cover and drying wetlands will also help curb greenhouse gas emissions, a major factor driving climate changes, which are threatening the country’s ecosystems.
“There is some evidence to suggest that climatic changes in Uganda are connected to loss of forest and tree cover. In the last two decades alone, Uganda is estimated to have lost about a quarter (1.3 million hectares) of its forest cover,” according to the Advocates Coalition for development.
Over the years, similar initiatives have been hampered by limited financial resources. For instance, Section 40 of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act provided for the Tree Fund, but it has not been operational.
At a recent media briefing, Dr Mary Gorreti Kituttu, the state minister for environment, revealed that the Tree Fund would be in operation beginning 2018. She explained that following discussions at the just-concluded Bonn Climate Change conference (COP23), there is optimism that government would secure the money.
“We agreed to consider loss and damage and we also agreed that an institutional mechanism has been put in place to handle it. We are going to operationalise the Fund,” she said.
Kituttu revealed that at the conference, developed countries pledged financial support. During the 2015 Paris Agreement, developed countries like German, China and South Korea promised to fund developing countries in Africa with $100 million annually to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Kituttu revealed that part of this money would be channeled to the Tree Fund. She further revealed that African governments had requested that the rules for accessing foreign financing be relaxed.
“One would need to come up with a document of over 200 [pages] to get finances and yet the effects of climate change don’t wait. There have been very many stringent rules on us to access finances but we have been negotiating that these rules are softened,” she said.
At the conference, three African countries (Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria) launched national Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) strategies.
This will see enabling policies, regulatory and legal frameworks, incentives and systematic capacity building programmes mainstreamed into national policy, planning, programming and budgetary processes.