Charcoal Ban Covers All Acholi Sub-Region, Gov’t Clarifies

The ban on the issuance of documents facilitating the commercial production, trade, and movement of charcoal and forest products isn’t restricted to Gulu District but the entire Acholi Sub-region, a senior government official has said.

Early this month, the State Minister for Water and Environment Beatrice Anywar issued a directive banning Gulu District authorities from issuing permits for charcoal trade and production in a move aimed at curbing forest degradation. 

The Minister also recalled all forest produce permit books issued to the district from the Ministry of Water and Environment with immediate effect.

A section of leaders in the district however criticized the directive alleging it lacks clear guidelines and won’t address the charcoal vice if other districts are still continuing to issue movement and trade permits.

Patrick Komakech, the Patiko Sub-County Chairperson told journalists in Gulu City last week that the directive can only be successful if other districts are issued the same ban. He notes that ever since the directive was issued, truckloads of charcoal have been moving through Gulu district.

But the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Environment Alfred Okot Okidi says whereas the directive was specifically given to Gulu District, its implementation cuts across the entire sub-region.

Okidi advised leaders in the Acholi Sub-region to join hands and follow the directive to address the damage that has been caused by the mass felling of trees for commercial charcoal production.

He says the Ministry will work with Gulu district so that they come up with plans for the restoration of forest covers, proper structures, and an inventory of the forest cover available. 

According to Okot, the Ministry will review the earlier directive issued once the district leaders show commitment to implementing what they have put in place is satisfactory.

Gulu District has witnessed a decline in forest cover over the years accelerated by the growing demand for charcoal and timber.

According to the Global Forest Watch report, Gulu district alone lost 38.7kha of tree cover, equivalent to a 6.2 percent decrease in tree cover from 2001 to 2021 with the biggest portion of the forest covers destroyed for charcoal production and timber.

Against this background, last week, the Ministry of Water and Environment and Kijani Forestry signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding in a move aimed at promoting the sustainable production of charcoal.

The agreement will see the government partnering with Kijani Forestry to facilitate the planting of fast-growing trees that can be harvested after a short period for charcoal and timber.

Already 300 farmer groups in Gulu District alone have been mobilized and are undertaking the initiative of growing tree species like Terminalia glaucescent (Opok), Terminalia, Alizia lebeck (Owak) acacia polycantha, Melia volkensii, and senna siamea.

The Ministry of Water and Environment in collaboration with the private sector plans to plant a total of 45 million trees in the country this year in a move to restore the degraded forest cover across the country.

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