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8 December 2008

Strengthening the Union Commitment to Sustainable Foresty, BWI launches Training Manual

Forests play an important role in supporting livelihoods in rural areas, providing employment opportunities and creating wealth through value addition in wood based Industries. As part of creating understanding on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), Uganda Building Union field tested the Social Forestry Training Manual recently developed by BWI which outlines the importance of trees in human environment, guidelines on stakeholders’ involvement and how ILO Standards can be integrated into the process of Sustainable Development. The Manual further provides tips on tree nursery development and tree planting campaigns there by providing information to workers and communities on how participation in SFM can be a drive towards improving livelihoods and addressing poverty with rural communities.

The workshop field tested 8 sessions which included practical sessions on tree nursery development and tree planting. The field session took place at Tororo Forest Project site in Eastern Uganda where Uganda Building Union has successfully developed 30 hectares of Eucalyptus and Pinus Plantations, with participation of local communities.

In his opening ceremony remark, the Presidential appointee, Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka , who is also the Resident District Commissioner, acknowledged the role of the Union in sustainable development and called the Uganda Building Union to continue with good work in community based interventions such as the forest project which is now benefiting the Tororo Communities. He emphasized the need to curb illegal logging and respects of International Standards in provision of forests goods and services.

In one of the thematic sessions, touching on health and safety aspects in forest operations, participants identified common hazards and possible solutions arising from tree felling operations, noise, fatigue and chemical applications. In addition, participants were informed of the challenges of “working alone” in forestry operations, where the practice was not recommended. The Health and Safety committees were called upon to ascertain circumstances in which working alone in field forest operations is justifiable.

The participants identified opportunities emerging from the Manual especially in developing forest projects and Tree Planting Campaigns with other actors, but also emphasised the need to strengthen sessions in the Manual dealing with Forest Certification and Skill Development.

The 2 day Field Testing Training of the Manual on Social Forestry was facilitated by BWI East Africa Coordinator Paul Opanga on 4th and 5th December 2008 in Tororo. Fifty (50) copies of Manual were distributed to the participants who included Union representatives from Nile Ply, Hima Cement, Tororo Cement, local communities and Tororo Project Committee members.