By Max Patrick Ocaido
The new parliamentary committee on Climate Change has vowed to fight Bugoma forest giveaway to sugarcane farming.
While addressing their first-ever press conference since the standing committee was constituted in May, committee chairperson Lawrence Songa Biyika (Ora County) promised that they will have a spirited fight to save all forests including Bugoma and Zoka Forest that are currently threatened by human activities.
“This committee is going to work hand in hand with other committees such as the Committee on Natural Resources to conserve our environment. Bugoma is one of our natural resources and we shall within our means do our best to save that forest and many others like Zoka,” Songa said.
He added that the committee will advise the government on other alternative investment options that do not have adverse effects on climate and where possible a cost-benefit analysis must be conducted to ascertain the comparative advantage of that investment vis-a-vis the impact on climate change.
“We must have a healthy ecosystem and this can be achieved through adaptation and mitigation where we limit green gas emission so that the adverse impact can be prevented or delayed. So, we need to do what is called cost-benefit analysis to see if the cost of changing land use will benefit the economy much more than its effect on the climate,” Songa said.
“We need to use our natural resources to build our economy and we must use it wisely because you may build one sector and destroy another which will give you a lot of money.”
In May, court amidst public uproar gave a green light for the destruction of 22 square kilometers of Bugoma Forest in Hoima District, to pave way for sugarcane growing. The MPs on the Climate committee have vowed to fight for the continued existence of these forests and other conservations sites like lakes and wetlands.
“We are going to reevaluate and assess the activities of the government. We shall also revisit these forests and ensure we protect and adapt accordingly,” Isaac Mulindwa (Lugazi Municipality) said.
The MPs want the government to focus on the 17 Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) most of whom relate to climate change.
“It will be very important for the country to focus on these goals because the climate effect can crash the economy within a short time. We need to mainstream climate change in all sectors of the economy,” Songa said.
Uganda is currently facing a significant climate change challenge, which puts at risk the country’s natural resources, tourism, and weather, which is an integral part of tourism. Statistics show that in 1990, Uganda’s forest cover was at 24%, but it has since then declined to 11% as of 2015.
As a result, Uganda has signed conventions, ratified treaties, held conferences, passed laws and even led campaigns to plant trees and reverse the threatening, negative trend of climate change. The government will soon table the Climate Change Bill, 2019 that seeks to regulate human activities on natural resources to avert the dangerous effects of climate change in the country.