President Museveni has ordered for the immediate removal of eucalyptus trees and fish ponds in all wetlands and swamps across the country.
The measure seeks to conserve nature. The president’s directive was issued during Easter Sunday prayers at St. Mathew’s Cathedral, Kyamate in Ntungamo district.
The president has also asked those operating fish ponds in swamps to abandon the practice, saying that such activities are disastrous and a threat to the near future.
He said that wetlands should be conserved to enable availability of water that will be used to support irrigation and other modern farming activities.
‘‘About the environment, I want to urge people who are planting trees in wetlands/swamps and setting up fish ponds to stop. Wetlands are water reservoirs, they must be conserved. Any encroachment on wetlands is disastrous. If wetlands are drained where will farmers get water for irrigation? How can one light fire in a granary?’’ The president said.
A verification exercise done in 2014 mainly in Kampala and Wakiso districts showed that over 17,000 land titles had been awarded over wetlands. The government said the titles awarded over wetlands would be cancelled, but the process has not been concluded to-date.
The directive is a huge blow to the massive investment by Ugandans who have of the years invested heavily into commercial tree planting and fish ponds in swamps and wetlands. Many of these projects are owned by government officials and politicians.
The president also called on farmers to use drip irrigation as government finalizes plans to roll out mass irrigation to avoid wasting seeds.
The President was previously criticised for his seeming lack of concern for the environment when, for instance, he was on the verge of parceling out a piece of Mabira forest to an investor for sugar cane growing.