The Wood Or The Trees?

19 Apr 2007

A UN report published last month stated that Uganda’s is one of the world’s fastest growing populations and estimated that it will triple over the next 40 years.

Population pressure on increasingly scarce land and resources and ensuing rural poverty are, alas, leading to the devastation of the country’s forests, which people are clearing for agricultural purposes and supplies of firewood and timber.

According to government figures about 55,000 hectares of forest cover per annum disappear every year. Much of Uganda’s forest is planted, not natural, but in order to teach rural communities the value of conserving forest, it is government policy not to replant to set off deforestation.

Last week, three people were killed in riots against government plans to grant almost a third (about 7,100 hectares) of the Mabira Forest Reserve, founded in 1932, to the Indian-owned Mehta Group’s sugar estate.

The proposal to raze part of Mabira, tabled by President Yoweri Museveni last year, is unpopular in Uganda, where critics suggest the scheme would have dire ecological effects, such as increased soil erosion, silting, the drying up of rivers and the possible extinction of numerous animal and plant species.

The government responds by arguing that the sugar scheme would create jobs for the growing population, hence limiting its need to encroach on forests. In other words, losing a section of Mabira would compensate for the much more extensive deforestation caused by poor Ugandans every year.

The Ugandan parliament in Kampala will attempt to solve the conundrum shortly.



Blog & news

Change the world through food

Learn how you can restore ecosystems, communities and your own health with our RegenerAction Toolkit.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Full name
Privacy Policy