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Deforestation in Uganda

The rate of deforestation in Uganda is high, above 2.2% per year and the reasons behind this phenomenon are many. First of all, the large majority of the population utilizes wood or charcoal for cooking or for domestic needs; for producing one metric cube of charcoal is needed at least two metric cubes of wood. Secondly, the forests are cut to leave space for new cultivated land or for cattle grazing, due to land degradation; moreover, many people do not perceive the importance of keeping the forests intact, as they see them as unutilized areas. The third crucial reason for deforestation is the high population growth of above 3.3 % per year, which put a lot of pressure on the environment (in Uganda this figure means an increase in population of above 1 million and two hundred people per year).

With 70 % of the forests privately owned, these are most affected by deforestation. However, deforestation occurs also in the protected areas. Tourism in Uganda is largely “primate” tourism, in other words forest tourism, therefore protecting the forests is key policy for developing the tourism sector as well as for conserving the biodiversity for future generations. The National Forestry Authority in 2009 has launched important projects for reforestation. The pressure of commercial interests over the forested areas is an instable equilibrium, as it shows in 2007 the “Mabira Case”, when commercial projects for development of sugar canes plantations were affecting the existence of the forest of Mabira. An international campaign to save Mabira forest was launched in the name of putting the environment before the commercial interests.