Deforestation in Uganda

Posted on July 15, 2016 12:24 pm

In 2014 I was able to see for myself how villagers in Uganda’s northern region sow seeds of food crops on a plot of land belonging to the community owned forestry that left me imagining how farming in Africa remains manual despite the advance in technology.I compared their agriculture methods with those of my relatives in Tasmania and couldn’t see how a farmer in northern Uganda can compete with a farmer in Tassie. Due to the locals’€™ heavy dependence on agriculture, community organisations allow them to till its land during the rainy season. Uganda has one of the fastest rate of deforestation in the past 10 years, according to a new map on deforestation. A team of researchers from local and regional universities has created a high-resolution Ugandan map that maps forest cover. In a report that will be published soon, the researchers found a global loss of 800,000 square kilometers of forest between 2004 and 2014 and a gain of just 100,000 square kilometers of new forest.Uganda, according to the study, has experienced the highest rate of deforestation between 2004 and 2014, from around 5,000 square kilometers per year between 2004 to around 8,000 square kilometers of deforestation per year in 2014.

During the latest period, government agencies actually initiated the forest clearance moratorium to reduce the country’€™s greenhouse gas emissions and rate of deforestation.The country has lost 800,000 million hectares in total between 2004 and 2014, ranking third behind Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania in terms of forest loss in the Sub Sahara Africa, the study notes. It finds that Tanzania is doing well compared to the other most densely forested countries in the region. It managed to cut its deforestation rate from around 10,000 square kilometers per year to around 4,000 square kilometers per year. But Tanzania’€™s success is, however, offset by the increasing deforestation in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.This is the first map of forest change that is consistent and locally relevant,’€ according to a researcher who shared the report with your blogger. Losses or gains in forest cover shape many important aspects of an ecosystem including, climate regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity and water supplies, but until now there has not been a way to get detailed, accurate, satellite-based and readily available data on forest cover change from local to global scales.Ugandan government will of cause study the results of the study and hopefully act on what scientists will recommend.I bet there will be those who will believe researchers miscalculated the loss of forest cover, because, according to the data from the ministry, Uganda only lost around 1,000 hectares of forest every year.

Going through chapter after chapter of the report, it was clear the scientists looked at satellite images of areas where logging activities are taking place especially in northern Uganda like Kitgum and Eastern parts of the country like Sebei and was also impressed with how they put the country’€™s temporary deforestation into consideration.In Uganda, temporary deforestation is, for example, logging activities within the Forest Permit areas, which will be restored after the timber harvesting period concludes. The country harvests only 5,000 hectares of Forest Permit area per year according to the scientist estimates. What wasn’t clear to me is whether they classified timber harvesting as forest loss and efforts to get the clarification from the researcher were futile but hopefully will get it and share it.Having visited different parts of Uganda over the years, I can say the Forestry Ministry had succeeded in reducing the country’€™s rate of deforestation, since the log exports ban was enacted and the forest clearance moratorium was introduced, which prohibits the issuance of new licenses for the conversion of primary forests and peatlands in both protected forests and productive forests.Unlike other countries, Uganda hardly issues permits as much as it used to during the forest clearance moratorium. Therefore, I think this study is stating the truth but i think the Kampala government should launch the forest clearance moratorium evaluation report so that researchers and authorities responsible for protecting Uganda’s forest can work together towards a common goal of ensuring the country remains ‘Peal of Africa.’

Contador Harrison