Deforestation is the large scale removal of forest and replacement by other land uses. World development indicators statistics for 2003 from the world bank show that the rate of deforestation in uganda is 2.0%. From 1990-2000, 913sq km of forest were destroyed.
Many development institutions and politicians regard population pressure as the major factor causing forest deforestation.
Government and businesses use this to imply that there is little or nothing they can do about the problem.
But close examination of forest destruction in uganda reveals that this is not so. In fact, politicians, forest officials and businessmen are the root causes of forest destruction in uganda.
For instance, thousands of hectares of primary forests are being destroyed in Mukono District by logging. The driving force in this destructive industry are not the landless people but Mps, senior UPDF officers, police, forest officers and their employees.
in uganda, corruption in the government is the main factor responsible for the deforestation.
75% of the total land area used to be covered by forests. But by 2000, less than 21.3% was under forests.
More than 49% of forests in uganda have been cleared or burned down in the last 40 years for timber, charcoal, firewood and farming.
A critical study of the reasons for the over exploitation of forest ecosystems in uganda by people without land or employment reveals many links with the economic interests of government officials, politicians and businessmen.
The economic exploitation of the poor by the rich underlines much of the over exploitation of forests by populations without land or employment.
In uganda, less than 5% of the population have access to electricity. This leaves 95% of the ugandan population to rely on forests as their source of fuel in form of firewood and charcoal.
Forest loggers find it hard to give up forests therefore.
The world rain forests movement points out that, â€œvirtually all forest lands are managed by and provide for local cultures,â€ and that logging is part of the development paradigm that refuses to recognise this.
Logging usually involves transfer of control of forests from the local people who have a vested interest in their preservation, to those who are interested only in destroying them for short term profit.
Such disempowerment of local people causes much environmental destruction. Industrial development schemes to a less extent contribute to deforestation in uganda. For instance, the case of Namanve forest.
It would be a disaster if forests are to vanish from uganda. Once cleared of trees, tropical forest top soil, which takes 1000 years to accumulate, can be eroded in a decade.
This makes the land unusable and can in turn lead to disastrous flooding since there is no soil to soak up the rain.
Forest clearance also leaves human forest dwellers without food or shelter.
This leads to the disappearance of ways of life which have existed for thousands of years. This is the same for wild animals and other biodiversity which have their habitats in these forests, some still unidentified.
However, potentially the most damaging effect of forest clearance is its impact on the climate
The perils of global warming and green house effect are caused by the build up of carbondioxide in the atmosphere. With the stock of motor vehicle registration at 298,581 vehicles a year in the revenue report of 2001-2002, the concentration of carbondioxide is increasing at an alarming rate.
The destruction of trees would bring about a disastrous imbalance in the carbondioxide produced and recycled, leading to a build up in the atmosphere and increased climate change.
Adroa Hudsan, assistant commissioner in the forestry department says, to reduce deforestation, poverty must also be eliminated, without alternatives the poor will continue to exploit forests.
He says creating awareness and people intergrating trees in their farming system will eliminate deforestation. He said they have created institutions to manage forests and now need to make actors, like local government, NGOs, and law enforcers active. The masses need education on how to sustainably harvest forests.
Deforestation: A growing threat