NFA is the National Forestry Authority. It is a government agency that was established by an Act of Parliament i.e. the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act (NFTPA), 2003 to manage Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) on behalf of government and in trust for the people of Uganda. CFRs are forests owned by the central government of the Republic of Uganda.
While the general mandate of NFA is to manage CFRs and supply high quality forestry products to the public and private sectors, the detailed functions of the authority as laid down under Section 54 of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003 include:
Yes, NFA has appropriate charges for technical advice rendered. NFA gives basic advice for free to farmers on CFR. For farmers who require detailed advice like management plans, establishing nurseries, silvicultural operations, financial analysis and projections, the fees are a bit higher but realistic. This is the function of the private forestry promotion unit and is consistent with NFA’s mandate of supplying high quality forestry products and services to the public and private sectors.
Harvesting (cutting) trees is supposed to be in accordance with a management plan that promotes sustainability of the forestry (tree) resources. As such, it should be policy that a forestry office nearest to the area of the intended cutting (harvesting) should be informed first. This is also a safeguard against the increasing stealing of trees from other private growers and CFRs under the guise of harvesting from personal plantations.
Under the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003, NFA is mandated to manage CFRs. The district forestry services on the other hand are responsible for local government forests, community forests and forests on private land in their respective areas of jurisdiction. The Forest Inspection Division currently the Forestry Sector Support Department (FSSD) offers supportive back-up to both the NFA and District Forest Services.
One of NFA’s key objectives is to be financially self-sustaining by 2008. NFA offers a range of services and products to raise revenue. They include ecotourism, consultancies on forestry and environmental issues to modern cartography and mapping. The products include seedlings, round wound and sawn timber. NFA also offers professional technical services to private plantation developers in form of forestry business plans, marketing strategies and forestry management plans.
NFA is semi-autonomous and operates in a business-like manner. NFA can sue and be sued. It is managed by a Board of Directors who report to the Minister for Water and Environment. It has limited dependency on government and development partners as it is expected to be financially self-sustaining by generating its own revenue from the forest resource under its management.
On the other hand, the defunct Forest Department was a government department directly under the Ministry like any other government departments and 100% funded by government.
The mandate of NFA is to manage CFRs. However, If the local governments have a need for any form of assistance in the management of the LFRs, NFA may be contracted ay a fee to provide any of the needed services such as mapping, provision of seedlings or technical assistance.
To-date, there are 506 CFRs in Uganda located in various parts of the country. The forest cover in CFRs represents about 15% of the total forest cover in the Uganda. The other forests that represent about 85% of the forest cover in Uganda are owned by Local Governments, private individuals and institutions.
By acting as catchment areas, forests ensure availability of water for agricultural production, and are habitat for forest biodiversity. Trees also suck up large volumes of carbon dioxide, thus cleaning up the air /atmosphere and provide forest goods like timber to the people of Uganda. Forests are national assets that add to the natural beauty of the country thereby attracting tourism revenue for the national coffers.