Uganda scoffed with encounters of uncontrolled forest obliteration throughout the country in the name of economic development. With this matter, many national resources have disappeared and most of the forests set out for other developments.
This has facilitated climatic changes testified about with the increasing hotness. Many forests have been seen disappearing for industrial parks, plantations, firewood, and charcoal burning.
The country has lost forest cover from around 5 million hectares since the early 1990s, almost three-quarters of Uganda’s central region which covers 24 districts, to less than 1.5 million hectares today about 20% of the region.
Though the National Forestry Authority (NFA) has always fostered efforts to ensure that forests in their gazette remain intact. The systematic trail of corruption in the country by both ground authority handlers and security officers who have always been used by ranking government officials to destroy the forests for their own interests.
In the trail of forest destruction and deforestation, there is a recent saga of Bugoma forest giveaway for sugar can factory construction as a sugarcane plantation in Hoima district western Uganda.
Mabira forest the historical biggest forest in central Uganda has suffered the greatest challenges where a great portion of the forest has been suggested to settlement by locals, cultivated for domestic and commercial sugarcane plantations, trees cut for timber, firewood, and charcoal. On a daily basis, there must be a truck getting out of the Mabira forest carrying firewood. Witnessing this, when trying to penetrate into the forest then you discover how bare the forest of the thick roadside view.
The NFA has always repudiated not ever had it ratified such illegal endeavors to any of its forests. The battle to combat and ensure the feature of forests has never been easy, as even sometimes timber cutters use non-motorized wood cutting tools which as well makes it difficult to monitor these activities.
Though the much efforts used include the introduction of eco-tourism as one way to ensure sustainability in the country.
The NFA could only rely on people on the ground to effectively monitor forests, which would need tens of personnel to do on-ground monitoring. These support about 250 on-ground personnel comprising sector managers, supervisors, and patrolmen who are further supported by the Environmental Protection Police Unit.
Thanks to technology invasion that the National Forestry Authority has resorted to deploying the use of trending information technology systems to combat the forestry illegal activities.
This December 2021, NFA has scored a slot for computerizing forest management. The Investing in Forests and Protected Areas for Climate-smart Development (IFPA-CD) project supported by World Bank has commenced activities.
The grant comprised of equipment including Laptops and geographical positioning system sets which are to be used to monitor forestry activities. The IFPA-DC project will run for a period of five years (2020-2026).
The project is to support the Government through the NFA agenda of increasing forest cover through afforestation and reforestation and slowing down the loss and degradation of the nation’s forests.
The components of this project will be;
- Focus on improving the management of government-managed forest and wildlife protected areas to ensure they can continue to generate and provide important environmental services.
- Increase revenues and jobs from these forest and wildlife-protected areas through targeted investments in tourism and productive forests.
- Encourage the establishment of greater tree cover in refugee-hosting landscapes outside protected areas, supporting sustainable forest management and landscape resilience on private and customary land.
Today the report from NFA shows that amidst challenges, the forest coverage is reassuringly aggregating in the country. Since the 1990s forest loss, Uganda’s forest cover has increased from the 9% in 2015 to 12.4%, and today studies are reporting as well and increase.