Why focus on trees? The trees act as kidneys for purification of atmospheric air and detoxification of emissions from green house gasses. Carbon dioxide and Sulphurdioxide create a green house effect when radiation is absorbed and the heat is prevented from escaping. However, the high concentration of the gasses makes Earth warmer and affects the natural ecological processes. Hence deforestation is one of the contributors of global warming and Climate Change in my country.
Uganda has suffered the full blunt of environmental deterioration characterized by irresponsible tree harvesting which has led to loss of 100,000 hectares of forest cover annually. On average, a household uses 150kg (2-3 m) of fuel wood per month. In addition, it is observed that the distances covered by those in search of firewood have increased considerably over the years. Similarly, there has been gross encroachment of wetlands for settlement and economic activities.
The negative impacts of these deleterious activities, have manifested in intermittent weather changes and climate variability, resulting into drought and hunger in many parts of Uganda. Yet the country still depends on agriculture which employs 76% of total labor force and contributes 22.3% of GDP.
Climate Change has had devastating effects on natural resource dependent communities especially small holder farmers. These farmers try out various options using ecosystem products and services to help them adapt. Kiboga, a rural district in the cattle corridor of Uganda, is highly dependent on agriculture and already affected by prolonged droughts and unreliable rainfall patterns. It is imperative to provide information that can be used to enhance adaptive capacity of small holder farmers whose adaptation responses are mainly founded on ecosystems, with emphasis on drought impacts and Ecosystem-based Adaptation options used by the farmers.
Insufficient water availability is a major threat as some wetlands dry up thus resorting to open water reeivors as major water sources. Open water reseivors are not easily accessible because they are established in high water table regions thus making irrigation a challenge. The pastoralists move long distances to reach the water sources using sticks as guides for livestock and for their own walking support. Some crop farmers, plant soil fertility improvement plants which they obtain from farmer field schools.
Farmers also practice agroforestry whereby the trees on farms provide multiple benefits e.g. poles for construction of shades, fruits which increase food security and habitants for their pet birds like doves. Some of the EbA options are tending towards mal-adaption if the relevant ecosystems are not well managed eg cultivation in wetlands, charcoal burning from trees resources and game hunting from range lands.
Water shortage is a major threat to the livelihoods of small holder farmers in Kiboga District during drought with most of the population obtaining water from few existing wetlands and open water reservoirs.
There is need for further research aimed at improving the understanding of community based ecosystem management. Need to build knowledge and skill capacity of farmers so they can lead and own planning and managing of ecosystems sustainably.
The Ministry of Water and Environment in my country, aims at protecting the plight of forestry which include, Reducing Emissions from Defforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) which is an international tool for providing performance based payments for reducing emissions from defforestation. This offers an opportunity for Uganda to serve the common interest in managing its forests in a balanced way for long-term sustainable ecomomic growth to support the livelihoods of local, rural and forest dependent communities and to ensure that its important natural heritage is conserved. There is also the Sawlog Production Scheme Grant(SPGs) that supports commercial tree growing, Farm Income Enhancement and Forestry Conservation Phase ii (FIEFOCii), that aims at protecting water catchment areas especially around irrigation schemes.
Looking at the future, the Green energy revolution and Sustainable energy are the long term goal that is being embarked on by major institutions for implementation in my community, with emphasis on renewable energy investment – biomass energy for domestic and industrial uses, enhancing solar power potential for ongrid exploitation of geo thermal energy and reinforcement of enviromental health and economic safeguards for energy future generations.
In synopsis, the scenarios described above are indeed a wake up call to all people in my community . since its important for everyone to be a steward of the environment. And also mitigate strategies that can address the emerging gaps in bio energy requirements for Uganda.