KAMPALA: A two year study done by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has indicated that Uganda needs Shs619 billion annually to conserve bio diversity.
Currently, Shs150 billion is what government allocates to the environment and natural resource sector which include; National Forests Authority (NFA), National Environment Management Authority and Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA), for bio diversity conservation.
Launched in 2015, the Bio diversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) project sets out financing solutions to assist in mobilizing resources for implementing their National Bio diversity strategies and Action Plans and green growth development.
However, Ms Mary Goretti Kitutu the state Minister for Environment said that bio-diversity conservation does not necessarily need funding and a big budget but rather creativity such as using school children to plant trees.
“This idea of budgets, no money…..we can achieve a lot without a budget,” she said, promising that the ministry has set a target that they should have raised the forest cover from 10 per cent to 18 per cent with or without a budget increment.
She was speaking during a high stake holder public dialogue on financing bio diversity conservation in Uganda at Serena Hotel in Kampala, where the study findings were launched and also discussed the proposed financing solutions.
The meeting is one of the activities organized ahead of the forthcoming World environment Day, marked every June 5, marked to call and mobilise for action on environmental conservation.
The solutions provided by the two year project include among others; financing bio diversity offset program, environment fiscal reform programs, eco system stewardship programs, optimizing symmetry between climate change management and bio diversity conservation and financing biodiversity private sector platform.
Dr Tom O. Okurut, the executive director of NEMA, said that the money is required to finance needs and gap analysis as well as financing solutions as suggested in the Biodiversity Finance Plan.
“There is need to focus on increasing environmental literacy and knowledge exchange to address the lack of knowledge on the different strategies of conservation and utilization on natural resources across the board and especially among local communities,” Dr Okurut said.
Due to the limited funding, Dr Okurut noted that “as a country, we are planting less than 10,000 hectares of trees s a year and yet losing at least 90,000 hectares of trees a year.”
If nothing is done to mobilise more resources for bio diversity funding given the rate at which the country is losing forests at 40 times more forests planted than those , Mr Daniel Omodo Mc Mondo, the program analyst, Energy and Environment Unit, UNDP Uganda, said it won’t take long before the country loses all its eco-system.
“If you look at the wetlands, the situation is not any better. Between 1990 -2015, the country lost 18 per cent of its forest cover and slightly more in terms of its forest cover,” Mr MC Mondo warned, advising that domesticating international conventions on environment conservation is another better alternative.
Uganda is currently experiencing unprecedented levels of environment degradation including encroachment on national game parks home to Uganda’s wildlife that brings in more tourists.
According to figures from the Ministry of Water and Environment , Uganda only has 7.4 million hectares of forest cover up from 50 million hectares in 1900; wetland cover is at 8.3 per cent land area coverage up from 15.6 per cent in 1994.
NEMA estimates that deforestation and land degradation cost Uganda 17 per cent of GDP equivalent to $625m (2.2trillion) annually.
As a result, different ecological species necessary to boost ecosystem productivity are facing extinction.