PAKWACH. At least 150 bags of charcoal impounded from illegal loggers in Pakwach district have been sold to the community to raise money for planting more trees in the district.

The bags of charcoal were impounded in the month of March 2019 in an operation aimed at dealing away with massive destruction of trees especially in Wadelai, Alwi and Pakwach sub-counties.

Ms Jennifer Oweka, the Pakwach district environment officer said cases of tree extinction are so common and evident in the district thus affecting the rain pattern in the area.

She confirmed that the district has resolved to use the funds raised from selling impounded charcoal to implement ‘Green Pakwach campaign,’ a project undertaken by the district environment department to avert cases of environmental degradation.

"We are going to buy tree seedlings to be planted and sensitize the community about the benefits of planting trees and how to sustain them for the future generation," Oweka said.

She noted that the district is faced with cases of massive tree destruction due to the high demand for charcoal fuel both for commercial and domestic consumption.

"When we ask for license, most of the truck owners decline and refer us to their superiors in Kampala claiming they are working on delegated power hence affecting our operation against illegal charcoal trade in the district," Oweka said.

Recently, the ministry of water and environment officials planted over 6, 000 tree species in Panyango sub-county mainly along the main Pakwach - Wadelai road and the R. Nile bank but most of the trees withered due to drought and lack of care.

But the district authority wants to revive the project by re-establishing the mini-irrigation schemes like Andibo water dam and the shs54bn Wadelai irrigation project which will help in supplying water for the survival of the trees planted.

Mr Michael Oloya, the district production officer said they also intend to locally establish tree seedbeds and distribute the seedlings to the community who will later require institutions like schools, church and local government offices to champion the "compulsory" tree planting campaign in the district.

According to Mr Jonathan Opar, the councillor representing Pakwach sub-county to the district council, he intends to table a bylaw that will ban the transportation of charcoal out of the district in large scale.

"Why is it that cases of charcoal burning in other districts are not as high as ours?” Opar asked, adding that we have become the main charcoal supplying district in the West Nile region.

“But we have now seen light and it is the reason I'm going to table a bylaw to prohibit illicit trade of charcoal," he promised.

Opar, however, supported the ideas of investing the money got from selling impounded charcoal in tree planting which he said will help in conserving the environment.