Breaking NewsEnvironmentNational

NFA Tom Obong Okello Signs Out after Six years

NFA Executive Director Tom Obong Okello Bids Farewell, Leaving Behind a Legacy of Environmental Stewardship

Kampala – Uganda : As the sun sets on Tom Obong Okello’s tenure as the Executive Director of the National Forestry Authority (NFA), his farewell message echoes the sentiments of a dedicated environmental steward who has left an indelible mark on Uganda’s forestry landscape. His tenure, characterized by significant achievements and unwavering commitment, has transformed the NFA into a beacon of conservation and sustainable forestry management.

Okello’s farewell message highlights his profound impact on the NFA, emphasizing significant milestones and success stories that have reshaped the nation’s approach to forest conservation.

NFA ED Tom Okello Obong during a partnership MoU signing event with EACOP

When Okello took the helm of the NFA six years ago, Uganda faced critical challenges in forestry management. Illegal logging, rampant deforestation, and inadequate funding plagued the sector. However, Okello’s visionary leadership and strategic initiatives have turned the tide, transforming the NFA into a model of environmental stewardship and sustainable forestry management.

Forest Restoration and Reforestation Efforts

One of Okello’s most notable accomplishments is the successful implementation of the Forest Restoration Program. When he assumed office, Uganda’s forest cover was alarmingly low, with vast areas deforested for agriculture and charcoal production. Under his leadership, the NFA launched extensive reforestation initiatives that have seen over 50 million trees planted across the country. These efforts have restored degraded landscapes, enhanced biodiversity, and mitigated the effects of climate change.

Community Empowerment and Agroforestry

Okello’s commitment to community engagement has been a cornerstone of his tenure. Recognizing that sustainable forestry management requires the active participation of local communities, he championed the introduction of agroforestry practices. This approach has empowered over 100,000 farmers to integrate tree planting with crop cultivation, ensuring food security while promoting environmental sustainability.

At NFA Office: ED Tom Obong Okello with Moses Golola set out to conserve forests with the communities in Uganda

Through strategic partnerships with local communities, non-governmental organizations, and international bodies, the NFA has distributed 10 million seedlings to schools, institutions, and communities. These efforts have fostered a culture of tree planting and environmental stewardship, ensuring that future generations continue to value and protect Uganda’s forests.

Technological Advancements in Forest Monitoring

Under Okello’s leadership, the NFA has embraced technological innovation to enhance forest management. The establishment of the Geographic Information System (GIS) for forest monitoring stands as a testament to this commitment. By leveraging advanced technology, the NFA can now monitor forest health in real-time, detect illegal activities, and make data-driven decisions.

This innovation has drastically reduced illegal logging and encroachment, safeguarding Uganda’s precious forest resources. The GIS system has enabled the NFA to map 1.5 million hectares of forest land, ensuring accurate and efficient monitoring. As a result, illegal logging incidents have decreased by 70%, highlighting the effectiveness of this technological advancement.

Success Story: The Transformation of Mabira Forest Reserve

One of the most compelling success stories during Okello’s tenure is the transformation of the Mabira Forest Reserve. Once a hotspot for illegal logging and encroachment, Mabira is now a thriving ecosystem, thanks to Okello’s efforts. The reforestation and conservation initiatives in Mabira have restored 30,000 hectares of forest land, bringing back biodiversity and revitalizing the ecosystem.

Mabira’s transformation has also turned it into a popular ecotourism destination, attracting 50,000 visitors annually. This influx of tourists has generated significant revenue for the local economy and raised awareness about the importance of forest conservation. The success of Mabira serves as a shining example of how effective forest management can yield both environmental and economic benefits.

International Advocacy and Leadership

Okello’s influence extends beyond Uganda’s borders. He has represented the NFA at various international forums, sharing Uganda’s success stories and learning from global best practices. His advocacy for sustainable forest management has positioned Uganda as a leader in environmental conservation in the region.

During his tenure, the NFA has forged partnerships with international organizations, securing $20 million in funding for various conservation projects. These collaborations have enabled the NFA to scale up its initiatives, ensuring that Uganda remains at the forefront of global efforts to combat deforestation and climate change.

Media engagement: NFA ED Tom Obong Okello addresses the media after an advocacy meeting at COP 28 in Dubai

Legacy and Future Outlook

As Tom Obong Okello bids farewell to the NFA, his legacy is one of resilience, innovation, and community empowerment. His tenure has been marked by significant strides in forest restoration, technological advancement, and community engagement. The foundations he has laid will undoubtedly continue to support Uganda’s forestry sector for years to come.

In his farewell message, Okello expressed his gratitude to the NFA team, partners, and the Ugandan people for their unwavering support. He emphasized the importance of continuing the work of forest conservation, urging everyone to remain vigilant and committed to protecting Uganda’s natural heritage.

Tom Obong Okello’s departure marks the end of a transformative era for the NFA. His vision and accomplishments will continue to inspire future generations of environmental stewards. As the NFA moves forward, it does so with the confidence and strength derived from Okello’s transformative leadership. His impact will be felt not only in Uganda but also in the broader global community committed to sustainable forestry management and environmental conservation.

Written by NFA Communications and Public Relations Unit



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *