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Kampala — Parliament should urgently enact a law that compels all Ugandan families to plant at least 20 trees each, the Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, has proposed.

Justice Owiny-Dollo made the remarks yesterday in Kampala during the ‘MyBreathtakingUganda’ campaign launch, a drive intended to rally Ugandans to embrace local tourism.

He says the magnitude of environment destruction in the country, especially deforestation, can only be encountered through restoring the forest cover.

“It costs nothing … ..for Parliament to come up with regulation that every household must plant 20 trees,” Justice Owiny-Dollo said.

He further said that if his proposal is adopted, with 22 families in the country, Uganda will have an additional million trees.

Justice Owiny-Dollo asked government and the private sector to invest more in tourism infrastructure.

Tourism is a top foreign exchange earner and Uganda last year raked in $1.4b (Shs5 trillion) from the sector, according to government statistics from Uganda Tourism Board.

But the country’s beauty is being threatened by destruction of the environment including the cutting down of trees and wetland reclamation. Some encroachers have taken their destruction to gazetted areas including national parks.

Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, the State minister for Tourism, at the same function complained about some judicial officers whom he accused of letting off suspected poachers.

“We have taken some legal actions [against the poachers] but some judicial officers do not understand us. We took some suspects recently but one legal officer said that was just normal hunting,” Mr Kiwanda said.

In response, Justice Owiny-Dollo said sometimes judicial officers’ hands are tied because they have to stick to the law.

He said even himself, his hands are tied in the fight against corruption to the extent that those, who have stolen billons of shillings have to be sentenced to only five years in jail.

Tourism enthusiast Isaiah Rwanyekiro and the brain behind the campaign, asked government to improve infrastructure across the country including roads, and healthy facilities, among others.

Report

A Joint Water and Environment Sector Review Report by the ministry of Water and Environment put the country’s forest cover at 9 per cent.

Between 1990 and 2005, natural forest estate outside protected areas reduced by 35 per cent (from 3.46 million hectares in 1990 to 2.3 million hectares in 2005).

People are converting forested land into agricultural land, timber and charcoal burning zones, the report indicates.

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