Winners of the cycling competition won various prizes while participants got trees to plant
Environment activists under their umbrella body, Umoja Conservation Trust have embarked on a campaign to save and conserve the environment in the Albertine districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Masindi, Buliisa, Kiryandongo, Greater Kibaale and the surrounding areas.
Under the theme “Albertine Conservation Week”, the activists carried out a number of activities including sensitizing the public about the dangers of destroying the environment and knowing their rights in light of the ongoing oil exploration in the region.
Maurice Amogola, one of the trustees of Umoja Conservation Trust and the CEO of Minet Uganda Ltd, said in the last two decades, a considerable number of forests in Uganda have been destroyed and this calls for concerted efforts to change the trend.
Amogola urged people in the region to conserve the environment by planting trees for commercial purposes and firewood so that they stop cutting trees in natural forests for charcoal.
He also urged them to plant major cash and crops so as to reduce pressure on the environment, but also supply food to hotels and a growing number of people in Hoima city due to ongoing oil activities.
“We interacted with representatives of over 29,000 farmers (managers and chairpersons of various associations) about protecting the environment, but also forge a way forward on how farmers can benefit from over 14000 workers who are working on the oil pipeline,” Amogola said, adding that these contractors on the oil pipeline alone will need a minimum of 6200kgs of onions per week.
He said if farmers don’t up production and ensure quality standards, these contractors will end up importing most of the required food stuff.
He urged farmers to plant trees with economic benefits such as shea butter trees and bamboo among others.
The conservationists also paid a courtesy visit to Bugoma forest and engaged in bicycle cycling competition where winners won various prizes. Dubbed ‘Bugoma Forest Tour’, the cycling competition kicked off from Kyangwali Refugee Settlement through Bugoma forest, Kikuube district and ended in Hoima city.
It should be noted that Bugoma Central Forest Reserve has reduced in size from 41,144 hectares to 37,000 as of 2019.
“Everyone knows Bugoma forest but for the wrong reasons. We have decided to use this tour to raise awareness about the need to protect the environment. The Albertine Graben like most of Uganda is largely made up of the poor. We invited those who have good bicycles to participate in this competition,” said Toshi Bryan Bwana, one of the brains behind Umoja Conservation Trust.
Participants were given trees like bamboo to plant. He notes that Ugandans can’t sit and watch as the environment is being destroyed, saying that they can do something.
“We have to supplement Government efforts in protecting and conserving the environment. If we don’t act now, we shall suffer severe consequences,” Bwana said.
Ronald Musoke, the CEO of Uganda Reinsurance Company, one of the sponsors of this initiative, said environment conservation is key for the present and future generations. He also noted oil activities should include environment conservation, urging key players in the oil and gas sector to consider environment protection a key priority.
Other sponsors of the Albertine Conservation Week included Uganda Insurers Association (UIA), Britam and UAP-Old Mutual.