04 December 2008

Fighting climate change unsuccessfully

Lominda Afedraru, Daily Monitor, December 3, 2008

Ahead of the UN summit to discuss climate change and its effects on the environment in the city of Poznan in Poland, forest researchers at the National Forestry Resources Research Institute (Naforri) are worried that weather changes are affecting our forests and rivers in the country.

According to the Principal Senior Research officer at Naforri, Dr Epila Otala, 20 per cent of the gasses that warm the environment are as a result of deforestation.

Dr Otala says Naforri in Mukono District in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) has been encouraging people to plant trees to replace those that are cut down but the public seem not to take this seriously because tree planting does not pay off immediately.

Naffori undertakes forest research to enhance scientific innovations, skills, information and policy advice for increased productivity, conservation of all tree species and sustainable use of forest and tree resources.

The Institute is currently focusing on farm forestry by developing technologies that integrate trees on farms to optimise crop yields, livestock production and conservation of natural resources.

“Seasons have changed, long ago, there was no malaria in Budibungyo because of the cool weather that was not favourable to mosquitoes but today people in the area are prone to deaths due to malaria,” Dr Otala says.

He adds that there is a lot of flooding these days and prolonged drought which usually affects those involved in farming and the end result is hunger and starvation.

Dr Otala says some major water bodies including Lake Victoria, Albert, Kyoga and the River Nile are reducing from their original sizes due to global warming.

According to Dr Otala, Uganda establishment the National Plan of Action (Napa) in 2003 to help solve the issue of climate change and other factors affecting the environment but nothing has been implemented so far.

Other areas include natural forests and wood land ecosystems where seedlings of trees like mahogany, musizi, mivule and mutuba among others are used as the research tools.

He says the purpose of the research is for the communities to identify suitable species for plantation and how to manage them.

According to the Director of NaFORRI, Mr J.F.O Esegu, what is unique with institute is that it wants to promote planting of various types of trees countrywide where the environment is favourable. For that matter an interested buyer is expected to place an order giving specifications where to plant a particular tree depending on weather conditions in the area.

He says in the case of eucalyptus trees, normally they are affected with the blue gum chalcide disease which destroys the seedlings right from their roots. In case of the mivule species, they are normally affected by goal blight pest that attacks its leaves and the beetle and the caterpillar worm that eats up leaves of most seedlings.

Mr Esegu says researchers are trying to establish ways of how to control pests and diseases for example by ensuring that the seedlings are well spaced once planted.

Naforri is also involved in stocking updated variety of tree seeds including forest related reading materials in its library.

Mr Peter Kiwuzo, a senior research officer at the institute says the purpose of keeping an updated library is for the consumption of students pursuing courses in forestry and nature conservation who come for internship.

© 2008 Monitor Publications Ltd

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