SAVE THE FORESTS
In 2010 Destination Jungle, in line with the International sensitization on global warming and for promoting sustainable development, has launched the campaign on “Save the Forest - Plant Trees”. This is well explained by the new company t-shirt uniform, which we use to sensitize the public and all our clients. The forests are a crucial part of the Earth’s ecosystem and to protect them is a key responsibility: forests protect against soil erosion, retains water and maintain the local climate also contributing to global climatic stability.
Gishwati forest, located along the western rift escarpment from Virungas down Lake Kivu, was a large forest in Rwanda. By the end of 80th only remained less than a quarter of the ancient forest, 280 sq km. Today is called the “forest of hope”, the symbol of the struggle to save the forests in East Africa. In Uganda the struggle to save Mabira Forest is also self explanatory.
Forests in Uganda.
In 2010 it is estimated that, with its total land area of 19.710 sq km (out of a total country size of 236.000 sq km), about 2.988.000 hectares are forested. This figure was up to 4.551.000 hectares in 1990 and in 2000 were 3.869.000 hectares. Therefore between 1990 and 2010 Uganda lost about 27% of its forests and the rate of deforestation is on the increase, above 2.2% per year. Uganda is well known for its high biodiversity, hosting more than 5000 species of plants, 345 species of mammals, 1015 birds species, 165 species of reptiles and 43 amphibians. If this natural wealth has to be protected, Uganda must react to save its forests.
Forests in Uganda are distinguished in different categories: the mountain forests accounting for 19 % of the total (Rwenzori. Mount Elgon, Bwindi, Mgahinga, Kibale, Kalinzu and Maramagambo); the savannah and wetlands forests, accounting for 80%; and plantation forests, which are the projects for reforestation for commercial trade.
The 70% of the forested areas is privately owned, while only 30% is protected by the government. Particularly, protected forests are managed by the National Forestry Authority (NFA), the government body established in 2003 for managing about 60 % of the forests; the remaining 40 % of protected forests are run by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the government body which was created in 1990 with the objective to protect the environment of the gazetted national parks.
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.
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