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NEMA Assures Timber Dealers Over New Directive of Source of Wood :: Uganda Radionetwork
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NEMA Assures Timber Dealers Over New Directive of Source of Wood

NEMA in its notice directed that all timber-processing companies present proof of sustainable sources of wood when applying for approval for timber processing.

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The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has allayed fears that they have intentions of weeding out small timer dealers and processors.  

NEMA in its notice directed that all timber-processing companies present proof of sustainable sources of wood when applying for approval for timber processing.  

In the notice, Barirega Akankwasah, the Executive Director says that the existing timber-processing plants will also be required to identify their sustainable source of wood, with evidence, before their certificates are renewed or audit approved.  

According to Akankwasah, the move is intended to consolidate national efforts to restore the environment and forest cover and to curb rampant harvesting of immature trees, and potential poaching of trees from protected areas.  

Following the directive, some timber dealers claimed that this is a move aimed at failing them and protecting some large investors in the industry. However, Tony Achidra, the Senior Communications Officer at NEMA says that the directive does not force anyone to have their own forests woodlots, but to ensure that the raw materials of their timber are not got from protected forests.

Achidra told URN that these directives are targeted at the large timber processing plants or factories, and not the sellers or transporters.   Achidra says that the processing factories usually conduct environment and social impact assessments when establishing their plants, but that there was not requirement for the proof of origin of the raw materials.  

//Cue in: “We are looking… 

Cue out: …was coming from.”//  

NEMA says that the move is intended to strengthen national efforts to restore the environment and national forest cover.  

Whether this is not overlapping the duties of the NEMA, Achidra says theirs is aimed at ensuring that when giving the environment and social impact certificates, all the activities of the factory do not violate any laws.  

NFA is charged with ensuring from the source that protected forests are not encroached on, while NEMA ensures that the products at the factories did only came from ‘sustainable sources’ or planted and mature trees.  

//Cue in: “We regulate the…   

Cue out:…from that angle.”//    

Some of the timber processors in the country are also growers of timer forests, but according to some, it is usually not enough to feed their factories and they have to source from other forest owners or the NFA.   Achidra says that the processors who do not have forests of their own are encouraged to partner with plantation or forest owners, provided that the wood in the factories can be traced to that forest.

The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate by NEMA originally ensured that the effects of the activities of the factories do not have unmanageable effects on the environment and the public. These may include degradation of vegetation, poor disposal of waste as well as the safety of the workers.

NEMA now says this directive is an addition to their effort to protect the environment by ensuring that timber harvesting is not degrading the environment and that the source is renewed after harvest.

NFA’s role is to “Manage Central Forest Reserves on a sustainable basis and to supply high-quality forestry-related products and services to government, local communities, and the private sector".

Currently, it has mandate over 506 Central Forest Reserves totaling 1,262,090 ha of land cover, with objectives of improving the management of the reserves, expanding partnership arrangements, supplying forest and non-forest products and services, and ensuring organizational stability.  

NEMA says that according to the latest studies Uganda's forest and woodland cover has steadily recovered from 9 percent in 2015 to 14 percent of the total land area today.

Despite this achievement, however, the progress has been slow, especially in the tree-planting activities.

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