By Betty Mujungu, Voice of Tooro/NECJOGHA
Fort Portal, Uganda – The Omukama of Toro kingdom, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru, recently launched a campaign to plant two million trees in the kingdom as away of preserving the environment.
During the launch at his palace in Fort Portal, in the western Uganda district of Kabarole, Oyo said the move is aimed at combating the drought that has been affecting the area following the massive destruction of wetlands and forests in the kingdom.
Oyo said the kingdom had partnered with the Rotary Club of Muyenga, in Kampala, to plant trees in different parts of Toro kingdom.
“We need to plant more trees because the environment is being destroyed. Wetlands and forests are being destroyed at a high rate,”Oyo said.
The king said two million trees will be planted every year over the next five years.
He also urged his subjects to adhere to his campaign of protecting River Mpanga, which is the biggest source of water for the people of Toro.
On Wednesday last week, the Omukama launched a campaign of placing trash cans along the banks of River Mpanga and an incinerator for burning the waste instead of dumping it in the river.
This is in line with the Theme of this Year’s Empango Celebrations which says that “It is our responsibility to conserve the environment”.
“We must preserve the environment by planting more trees. Let us stop planting eucalyptus trees in wetlands because they consume a lot of water and the wetlands may dry up,” Oyo said.
He noted that forests in the area were being cleared and the tree cover getting depleted by charcoal burners.
“We need to restore wetlands as one way of fighting extreme weather conditions,” Oyo said.
Bernard Tungakwo, the Toro kingdom prime minister, said people should focus on tree planting as a way of combating the effects of climate change.
He said if trees are maintained well, they can promote environmental conservation programmes and mitigate climate change.
Tungakwo said the tree species being planted include, fruit and shade trees.
“There is a big deficit and it is evident when anyone takes any direction from Kampala. The land is bare and the effects of climate change are more felt due to the absence of the tree cover.
In Toro, it has not rained for long because the environment has been destroyed,” Tungakwo said.
Edgar Muganzi, the team leader of National Resource Defense Initiative (NARDI), a non-governmental organisation operating in Toro sub-region, said the rate at which trees are being cut down without being replaced is alarming.
He said in conjunction with the water and environment ministry, they are supporting the kingdom in environmental protection.
“With the help of environment ministry, we are planting trees along River Mpanga to save the river from drying up,”Muganzi says.
Jackson Kitamirike the team leader of Albert Water Management Zone in the ministry of water and environment said they are working with the kingdom to protect rivers from extinction in the region.