Traditional Herbalists In Tree Restoration Drive

GULU – Traditional herbalists in Acholi sub-region allied to Wise Women Uganda are replanting indigenous herbal trees, which are facing extinction.

Some of the endangered tree species include; Afzelia Africana, commonly known as Beyo and shea-nut, found only in Acholi and some parts of West Nile.

The trees are being felled indiscriminately by timber and charcoal dealers.

However, about 40 women, mainly traditional herbalists and birth attendants, said that in the past they could easily get indigenous medicinal trees and shrubs to treat patients but to date they can hardly find any.

Juliet Adoch, the director Wise Women Uganda, told theCooperator that they bought seven acres of land in 2016 to plant medicinal trees and shrubs.

“In our umbrella organization, we have traditional healers and traditional birth attendants and we all use medicinal trees to heal several ailments among the population, but since most of the indigenous tree species could not be found, we have embarked on restoration,” she said

She said they have several seedlings of Beyo, Shea-nut trees.

The women have also distributed seeds to farmers in the region and sensitized them on the medicinal benefits of indigenous trees.

Grace Acayo, a traditional healer, said they have struggled to get seeds of both Afzelia Africana and Shea-nut.

“A lot has been injected in this restoration initiative but all was aimed at seeing that indigenous trees are grown once again,” she said.

The tree replanting initiative has also been taken to schools so that the young generation can also embrace it as a means of fighting natural calamities that might result from environmental degradation.

The District Forest Officer James Ocaka lauded the initiative and urged the entire population to borrow a leaf from the women.

“Reforestation should be our responsibility and since women have taken the lead, there is a lot to learn from them,” he advised.

He however, decried the indiscriminative cutting of trees in the region.

In 2018, the Ministry of Water and Environment, suspended the cutting, transportation, and sale of Afzelia Africana and shea nut trees, and their products.

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