National News

Agago District Clan Leaders Take Bold Stand Against Shea Nut Tree Destruction

Clan leaders in Agago district have actively led the charge against the depletion of endangered tree species. In December 2021, a coalition of 15 clan leaders initiated a year-long operation aimed at apprehending and penalizing individuals engaged in unauthorized and large-scale cutting of shea nut trees.

To combat the ongoing destruction of shea nut trees, the clan leaders conducted a mini-survey from August to December 2023, revealing that over 20,000 shea nut trees were ravaged in Arum, Omot, and Geregere sub-counties. Particularly affected were villages like Wipolo, Kazi-kazi, Olel, and Okwang B.

Despite facing challenges such as resistance from traders and locals who view the trees as their primary source of sustenance, the leaders persevered. Chief Kassimiro Ongom of the Patongo Clan reported the findings, highlighting the urgent need for intervention.

In response, President Yoweri Museveni issued Executive Order No.3 of 2023 on May 19th, prohibiting the mass trade in indigenous tree species, especially endangered shea nut trees. Despite this, the leaders discovered that illicit tree cutting and transportation persisted during the night.

John Okidi, the Agago District Environment Officer, acknowledged the ongoing violations of the executive order. However, he emphasized their commitment to apprehending and penalizing the culprits. The hope is that such measures will safeguard trees, enhance tree cover, protect the environment, and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.

To counteract the loss of forest cover, Agago district passed a resolution in January 2022 mandating tree cultivation for households, institutions, and individuals. With support from partners, the district established a nursery bed at the headquarters, distributing over 750,000 seedlings to institutions and communities by October 2023.

The district’s forest department aims to plant 200 million trees within a decade, monitoring the survival rates and providing technical guidance to communities. Despite enforcement efforts, some individuals, like Richard Otwal, were forced to cut shea nut trees for income. However, initiatives such as the distribution of tree seedlings offer a sustainable alternative and contribute to combating climate change while supporting livelihoods.

In 2016, cultural leaders implemented a by-law against shea nut tree cutting, later reinforced by the Ministry of Water and Environment in 2018. Despite these measures, the challenge persists, primarily driven by the demand for commercial charcoal production.


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