Uganda: Fisherman want to buy treeplanting rights for forest reserve

Last week, an anxious ‘army’ of fishermen from Mukono district turned
up at the National Forestry Authority (NFA) offices with a curious
proposition. “We would like to buy 200 acres of Namyoya forest
reserve,” group leader Latif Malimbo declared. “We are booking for
priority consideration once NFA is cleared to resume selling forests,”
he added. The traders’ inquiry was premised on media reports that the
President had directed NFA to halt ‘selling forests’. However, we told
Malimbo that NFA has only been issuing tree-planting licenses to
communities and individuals. Unlike sale transactions under which land
ownership changes hands, a licence only entitles the holder to
tree-planting for a specific period, usually in degraded or open areas
in forest reserves. As such, the licencee owns the trees, while the
forest land remains the Government property, managed by NFA.

Issuance
of planting licenses is provided for under Section 41 of the National
Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003: “A responsible body may subject
to the management plan, grant a licence to an interested person for
the sustainable utilisation and management of the forest reserve or
community forest,” and “A responsible body shall, in accordance with
regulations, prescribe the terms, conditions, rights and fees for a
licence granted under Section 41.” Licences are issued after
advertising, screening and evaluating applicants to ascertain ability
and a commitment towards compliance with management plans and the
requisite guidelines. Licencees are, for instance, required to desist
from illegal tree-felling, charcoal-burning and sand-mining. NFA has
cancelled some planters’ licences due to deviance and indulgence in
some of these activities. The licence duration is pegged on the
gestation period of the tree species in question. A licence renewal is
possible after submission of expression of interest for consideration.
With over 30,000 hectares planted by January 2008, licensed
tree-planting has significantly supplemented NFA’s efforts towards
afforestation in Uganda. Under an entitlement to licences of at least
5% of forests within their vicinity, communities have improved their
incomes through planting fast-growing trees. Some locals around
forests like Kasana-Kasambya, Budongo, Nsekuro Hills, Kachung and
Wiceri have transited from rural peasants to urban traders using
proceeds from tree-sales. http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/459/664874

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