Everyone loves to live in a good environment. But how many of us do something to preserve our environment? Last week I was invited by the Bubulo Environmental Conservation and Management Association to see how they were trying to restore their environment through planting trees.
Their project in Manafwa district covering covers some parts of Pasa water stream and Manafwa River. Pasa pours into River Manafwa. Residents say that during the rainy season the stream swells and takes away layers of soil.
I was welcomed to the place by a cool breeze. The area was green and birds were singing. River Manafwa was flowing calmly.
The group started in 2016 with only ten members who feared that being in hilly areas, mudslides might affect them. They started to plant trees.
Musa Mandu, the group’s chairperson said: “In the 1970s when we were growing up the whole of this place was surrounded by indigenous trees. But time has passed and most of the trees have been cut. That is why we came up with this idea to restore our indigenous tree species.”
“The trees we plant include bamboo, omugavu, Musizi, Litotowa, Sihulangu, Kimikuyu and Mahogany,” he added.
“We agreed that each of the ten members should start with planting 100 trees. After some time we expanded from ten and now we are 72,” he said. As per now, Mandu said, the members have up to 7,200 trees within the membership.
How they are planted
On the river banks, they start with planting cattle pastures just 5ft from the water, followed by bamboo, and then the other tree species with the same spacing in between.
He said that they do it like that because the pasture captures water, the bamboo calms down the water pressure, and lastly the trees push back into the river course the water that may have bypassed the first two layers of defence.
Mandu added that they have now expanded help even non members plant trees.
“When somebody has the land we orient them, and enter into a memorandum of understanding that we plant both trees and grasses on your land but since the grass grows faster you are allowed to cut once in a year and you give us 10 percent of the total earnings you get from those grasses,” he said.
Mandu said they have so far distributed 120,000 trees in 12 sub counties in Manafwa district alone.
Milton Wefafa, the group’s general secretary, said nobody was allowed cut down any of the trees they have planted as an association unless they have planted another two, and also received the group’s approval.
“If you are a member and you cut the tree without our consent you pay a fine of UGX 50, 000 but if you are a nonmember and you cut our tree we take you to court as per our constitution,” he said.
Wefafa said that these punishments differ because the nonmember just gives space but the planting and weeding is done by the association.
Mandu said that in 2016 when the National environmental Management Authority (NENA) heard of their programe they visited them. “They took five of our members and trained them but since then they have never returned, he said.
Mandu said that they also keep honey bees to generate income. They have over 70 bee hives and extract between 10 and d20 litres from each, selling a litres of honey at UGX 5000.
They also get donations from well-wishers. “We call upon whoever can offer support to our project to help us because currently we need to expand from the 72 members. Our dream is to have membership in each and every district within 10 years from now,” Mandu said.