More than 120 people have been recruited and supported by a European Union-funded project to build Uganda's commercial tree planting sector. Allan Amumpe, Project Manager of the Sawlog Project Production Scheme, says that every year the number of people embracing tree planting as a viable business venture increases. He says there are currently 10,000 hectares of land around Uganda dedicated to commercial tree planting. Despite this, Amumpe says the current rate of recruitment is insufficient to mitigate the problems of deforestation. He says more people need to join commercial tree planting in order to save Uganda's forest cover from extinction. Uganda's natural forest plantations have reduced from 15,000 hectares in 1972 to less than 1,500 hectares today. Amumpe says the Sawlog Project has created six regional clusters around the country to create more equitable engagement in the sector. //Cue in: iAs a way #i Cue out: i# satellite areas.i// To qualify for a grant from the Sawlog Project Production Scheme you need 25 hectares of land, financial stability and a viable forest management plan. The forest management plan is a business proposal outlining how you will establish and manage your plantation. Community groups can also apply for grants. They need to have at least 20 interested individual, a small plot of land, averaging five hectares from individuals. Once the group's proposal is approved, they will be given seedlings, training and advice, but no money. //Cue in: iForestry is #i Cue out: i# worth the wait.i// Robert Nabayumya, a commercial tree farmer, says he his optimistic about the future of commercial tree planting. He grows pine trees in Nakasongola, Kamuli and Mubende. Nabayumya says many Ugandans are skeptical about the financial viability of commercial tree planting. He says many farmers only invest in trades that will guarantee them a quick turnover. Attracting traders to the forestry sector is a priority area of the Uganda Investment Authority. Information on the authority's website says the country possesses abundant potential in areas like timber processing for export, manufacture of high quality furniture and wood products and various packaging materials. The tree plantation resource is currently very small, but very productive with harvests of 16 tonnes of timber per hectare every year. Last month New Forests Company, a British commercial tree planting company, secured a 14 billion-shilling equity investment o support its plans of becoming the largest tree planter in East Africa. The company is thee largest tree planter in Uganda and the country biggest investor in the forestry sector. It operates in Mubende, Kiboga and Bugiri districts.