Forestry is an important sector of the Ugandan economy, providing a range of benefits including timber production, fuelwood, non-timber forest products, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity conservation. Here is an overview of everything about forestry in Uganda:
Forests in Uganda: Uganda has a total forest cover of about 4.9 million hectares, which is equivalent to about 24% of the total land area. The forests are found in different regions of the country, including the highlands, lowlands, and savannah regions.
Types of forests:
- Natural forests: These are forests that have not been significantly influenced by human activities. They are mainly found in the highlands and lowlands of Uganda and contain a rich diversity of tree species.
- Plantation forests: These are forests that have been established by humans through planting of tree seedlings. They are mainly established for timber production and have a lower biodiversity than natural forests.
- Community forests: These are forests that are managed by communities and are established for a range of purposes, including fuelwood, non-timber forest products, and soil conservation.
Benefits of forestry in Uganda:
- Timber production: The forestry sector contributes significantly to the production of timber in Uganda, which is used in the construction industry and for the production of furniture.
- Fuelwood: The majority of Ugandans depend on fuelwood for their energy needs, making the forestry sector an important source of livelihood.
- Non-timber forest products: The forests in Uganda provide a range of non-timber forest products such as medicinal plants, honey, and mushrooms, which are used for food, medicine, and income.
- Carbon sequestration: The forests in Uganda play an important role in sequestering carbon, which helps in mitigating climate change.
- Biodiversity conservation: The forests in Uganda are home to a wide range of plant and animal species, including endangered species such as the mountain gorilla and chimpanzee.
Challenges facing forestry in Uganda:
- Deforestation: Uganda has experienced high rates of deforestation due to factors such as population growth, agricultural expansion, and illegal logging.
- Illegal logging: Illegal logging is a major challenge in Uganda, with some estimates suggesting that up to 60% of timber harvested in the country is from illegal sources.
- Weak institutional capacity: The forestry sector in Uganda is hampered by weak institutional capacity, including inadequate policies and regulations, limited human and financial resources, and insufficient enforcement mechanisms.
- Climate change: Climate change is affecting the forests in Uganda, with changing rainfall patterns and prolonged droughts affecting forest health and productivity.
Government efforts to address the challenges: The government of Uganda has taken several measures to address the challenges facing the forestry sector, including:
- Establishment of a legal and regulatory framework: The government has established laws and regulations to guide the management of forests, including the Forestry and Tree Planting Act.
- Community forest management: The government has encouraged the establishment of community forests, where local communities are involved in the management and conservation of forest resources.
- Reforestation and afforestation: The government has initiated several programs to promote reforestation and afforestation, including the National Forestry Authority’s Plant a Million Trees Campaign.
- Sustainable forest management: The government is promoting sustainable forest management practices, such as reduced impact logging, to minimize the negative impacts of logging on forest ecosystems.
Below we give you the remaining forest cover in Uganda:
MABIRA FOREST RESERVES
Mabira forest reserve is situated in Buikwe district and that is in between Lugazi and Jinja. It has been protected as a reserve since 1932. It covers over 306 square kilometers and it is of course the largest forest in central Uganda. It harbours a variety of primates such as the vertvets, red tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys among others. Mabira forest reserve shelters over 320 species of birds including the grey long bill and the hawk eagle. Approximately 100 species of moths and 221 species of butterflies.
Mabira is a huge beautiful forest with a stretched visitor’s network. There are over 10 forest trails for the tourist. If you are planning to visit Uganda, this forest destination should not be neglected. The forest reserve has a lot to offer in terms of nature and wildlife and not forgetting its amazing accommodation facilities and other activities. Mabira forest lies on the main Jinja to Kampala high way and it is almost 56 kilometers from Kampala. The forest is readily and easily accessible due to strategic location.
KALINZU FOREST RESERVE
It is a forest reserve situated in western Uganda and it situated in Bushenyi district. it is over 382 kilometers away from Kampala. For one who is visiting Queen Elizabeth national park a stop -over at Kalinzu is a good way to explore. The two attractions are almost right next to each other. At Kalinzu you can still carry out activities like forest hiking, nature walks, birding, chimpanzee tracking and a couple of more activities. Kalinzu forest is famous for its 400 species of trees not forgetting the shrubs including the prunus African and the parinari. The forest also harbours different species of primates such as the chimpanzee, colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys and baboons. 380 bird species such as the black and white basket, and the great blue turacos. Over 100 moth and 270 butterflies.
Kalinzu also harbors wildlife species such as lions, wild pig, leopards, waterbucks, elephants, buffaloes, and giant forest hogs this is because it boarders queen Elizabeth national park. The forest attracts a number of tourists annually.
BUDONGO FOREST RESERVE
Budongo forest is notably the largest mahogany forest in East Africa and also it is featuring as an environment for over 800 chimpanzees in Uganda. The forest is also a good spot to view other primates such as the red tailed monkey, the black and white colobus. At the edge of Murchisson falls National park are busingiro and kaniyo pabidi eco-tourism sites. These sites are amazing tourist spots and are overlooked by the beautiful mahogany and iron wood trees. Budongo forest has a rich biodiversity of wildlife. Budongo forest habituates other species such as ht black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, grey cheeked mangabays, and the blue monkey. It also habituates 26 species of mammals, 300 butterflies and 470 tree species. Budongo forest reserve is located in the north west of Uganda. it is 3 hours away from Kampala. It covers over 830 square kilometers and 55% is forest coverage and the rest is grassland forest. It has been existing since 1932. The reserve is situated in the south of Uganda biggest national park which is Murchison falls national park.
Some of the activities that can be carried out at bundogo forest include chimpanzee tracking, forest walk, birding, and chimp habituation experience and wildlife safari. Accommodation can be accessed but it far away from Budongo some of them are eco lodge, Kabalega resort, hotel victory bijja and Masindi hotel.
BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
It is a huge forest located in the south west of Uganda and it is found in Kanungu district. The forest is at the edge of the Albertine rift. The forest has extensive stands of bamboo interspersed amongst the larger forest hardwoods. These cover the ferns and vines and other plant growth which severely hinder direst access on foot. The forest has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a world heritage site for its biological significance. Some of the activities in the forest include forest walks, Bwindi walking safari, cultural walk, Batwa cultural experience, Bwindi community health center, and craft shopping. The forest has at least 90 mammal species, with 11 primates and is ranked as the best in Africa for forest birding. Some of the accommodations in Bwindi include gorilla forest camp, chameleon hill, Buhoma lodge and the mahogany springs lodge.
The Bugoma forest is a tropical forest that is situated southwest of Hoima and northeast of kyenjojo towns and east of Lake Albert in Hoima district in western Uganda. it was gazetted in the 1930’s and came under the mandate of the NFA in 2003. It covers over 400 square kilometers. The tree cover of the forest belt shows a tendency towards monospecific dominance and it has different tree species that are really big. The forest also harbours wildlife such as 23 mammal species, 225 species of bird and 260 tree species. The forest is threatened by illegal logging and it is feared that it may result into settlement area and agriculture and the situation is worsened by the influx of the Congolese refugees and large scale tea and tobacco farms on its outskirts that infringe on the reserve boundaries.
ECHUYA FOREST RESERVE
It is located in the western parts of Uganda in the districts of Kisoro and Kabale. It is a sanctuary for different plant and animal species. It is home to the unsafe bird species such as the Grauers swamp wabler. It serves as a source of water for the neighbors who often harvest bamboo and other resources from the reserve. The forest is now being promoted as a tourist destination and bamboo eco-tours offers birding experience. The forest has a permanent high altitude swamp in a narrow valley. Echuya has densely populated agricultural land surrounding the forest although the encroachment is considered not significant. The reserve is the main source of bamboo which is used for building and crafts by the local community. The Batwa have continuously lived in the forest. The main activity at echuya forest reserve is birding and it is home to roughly 150 species of birds. Some of the birds located in this area include dwarf honeyguide, red throated alethe, strange weaver, regal sunbird, montane oriole, brown capped weaver, collared apalis, red faced woodland wabler among others.
LUTOBOKA FOREST RESERVE.
It is found on the eastern side of lugala island. It has a medium altitude and moist ever green forest. The most common activity carried out here is birding and the most important area for the birds is the narrow strip of tall trees at the edge of the forest which is mainly within the forest reserve but with small excursions with in the Kalangala town which is the biggest urban centre of the islands.
MPANGA CENTRAL FOREST RESERVE
It is located in Mpigi district 37km from the city center of Kampala. It can e4asily be accessed through the Kampala-Masaka highway. Therefore the access is a tarmac road and good dirt road passable throughout the year. Mpanga central forest reserve has unique tree species and other flora and it has a number of primates such as red tailed monkeys, an array of birdlife, grey parrots, owls, hornbills among others. Some of the activities carried out at the forest include forest walks and exploration, bird watching and identification, primate watching, and the forest trails are well developed into four main routings such as the baseline trail, the hornbill trail, and the butterfly trail. There is a tourist banda at the visitor reception centre at Mpanga under the management of the NFA. They can also hire a tent at a modest fee. There is also self- catering facilities but meals can be ordered from the house care taker.
It is located in Bushenyi, it is part of Queen Elizabeth NP and it is found in the southern part of the forest. It is a mature rainforest and it is well grounded on Kichwamba escarpment. The forest stretches on the shores of Lake Edward. The forest harbors various species such as the black and white colobus, chimpanzees, blue monkeys and red tailed monkeys. The trees of the Maramagambo form canopies which create shades for the visitors during the hiking experience. The forest has got crater lakes that eloped from volcanic processes. It also has a bat cave where the bats collect. Maramagambo forest is a rich birding destination with 54 counts of raptor species. Some of the activities carried out at the forest include birding, nature and forest walks, and primate viewing and also visitors are able to see more animals.