Gulu district has suspended charcoal burning for one month in attempt to regulate the business. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu LC V chairperson, says the district executive resolved to suspend charcoal burning effective January 5th to pave way for a study of the business following massive tree cutting.
He says there are hundreds of illegal charcoal and timber dealers in the district who are involved in indiscriminate cutting of trees. According to Mapenduzi, some of the dealers have encroached on private forests after enticing residents with money to allow them cut down trees.
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More than 30 acres of trees have been cut in Paicho and Omel for charcoal burning. Odek, Lalogi and Palaro sub counties are the most affected. Mapenduzi says that the exercise, the district will impose heavy taxes on charcoal burning as one of the ways to regulate the business.
John Akera Boscombe, the Gulu Deputy Chief Administrative Officer says they are also considering impounding charcoal from the neighboring Nwoya, Amuru and Pader districts.
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Currently, charcoal dealers in Gulu pay a levy of Shillings 3000 for a bag of charcoal while those from other areas pay Shillings 10,000. Timber dealers pay between Shillings 60,000 and 400,000 depending on the size of truck they are using.
John Onen Otto, a timber dealer admits that there are many illegal dealers in the trade. He however, says the two days allocated to the charcoal dealers to retrieve their charcoal may not be enough.
Charcoal burning has greatly contributed to the reduction of the forest cover in the country. According to some reports, Uganda loses close to 73,000 hectares of forest cover annually, which has affected the country's climate.