The Ugandan government has dropped plans to give away one third of the protected Mabira Forest Reserve, wanted by sugar cane companies including the influential Mehta Group, for large-scale production of ethanol.
The plan to ‘de-gazette’ and fell 17,500 acres (7,100 hectares) of Mabira would have breached a World Bank deal safeguarding the reserve and may have flouted the country’s constitution.
The forest hosts one third of Uganda’s bird life including 75 species found no-where but the Guinea Congo Forest of which Mabira is a remnant. “This is a tragedy averted,” said Paul Buckley, Head of the RSPB’s Africa Programme. “It was ludicrous even to think of sacrificing such a precious site to a crop that is already so heavily subsidised in Uganda. The forest would have been irreversibly damaged had this give-away gone ahead.
“This announcement could not be more timely with the eyes of the world on Uganda before the Commonwealth Head’s of Government Meeting next month. Now Uganda has a brilliant opportunity to really make the most of its wildlife jewels. The site is famous with eco-tourists and slicing it up made no economic sense whatsoever.”
The Ugandan Finance Minister, Dr Ezra Suruma, announced at an official dinner that the forest give-away had been scrapped. “We have committed ourselves to conserving Mabira Forest. There is other land in Uganda suitable for sugar cane growing,” he said.
The news was welcomed in Uganda where shadow environment minister, Beatrice Anywar, said: “That is really good news…It would have been a shame to violate what matters to the rest of the world.” Emmanuel Ssendawula, premier of the Buganda Kingdon, which surrounds Mabira, added: “This has been everyone’s prayer and the crusade should continue.”
The 75,000-acre (30,000-hectare) Mabira forms the eastern part of the Guinea Congo Forest in central Africa. It is classified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International. It hosts almost 300 bird species including the globally threatened Nahan's francolin, which is similar to the partridge.
Eco-tourism is now Uganda’s second largest foreign exchange earner with 62 per cent of income from visits to Uganda’s forest reserves coming from Mabira. Under the 2001 World Bank agreement, the bank pledged funds for construction of a hydroelectric dam on the River Nile in return for a government promise to protect Mabira.
A study by Nature Uganda earlier this year is thought to have prompted the government’s decision. It showed that income from conserving Mabira would dwarf the profits anticipated from sugar cane production and pinpointed other land suitable for sugar cane cultivation.
The report also highlighted the forest’s 300 bird species and 200 different trees, and its nine endemic species including the rare grey-cheeked mangabey, a type of monkey. It stresses its role in storing carbon and water. Mabira buffers Lake Victoria from industrial pollution and provides food, medicine, wood and jobs to 120,000 people living nearby.
The RSPB’s partner in Uganda, Nature Uganda, is jubilant at the decision to save the forest. Executive Director, Achilles Byaruhanga, said: “The economy of Uganda depends on the country’s environmental health. Agriculture, tourism and fisheries are core to our wellbeing making environmental protection an overriding factor in our development.”
Mathias Kigongo, a district councillor for Naja sub-County, which is next to Mabira, said jobs would have been lost if the sugar cane plans had gone ahead. “We feel the forest should not be touched. The benefits from sugar cane cannot be equivalent to what we would lose.”
Ato Mengistu Wondafrash, of Birdlife International’s Africa Partnership, said: “We applaud the Ugandan government for taking this bold decision to protect its forest resources despite the intentions of the sugar company. I cannot wait to go for another walk in Mabira now that the axe no longer hangs over so much rare and beautiful wildlife.”
Cath Harris | alfa
Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt
Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering