Mabira Forest Reserve
The Mabira Forest is a rainforest area covering about 300 square kilometres (120 sq mi) (30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) in Uganda located in Buikwe District between Lugazi and Jinja. It has been protected as Mabira Forest Reserve since 1932. It is home for many endangered species like the primate.
Mabira Forest is the closest and only Rainforest in Central Uganda– only 50 kilometers from Kampala a place that tourists want, school children on nature trips come to. Ugandans have a picnic, a favorite for Birders, a place an Oasis of Natural Beauty and Wonders. The magnificent trees, Plants, Flowers, Birds, Butterflies, Monkeys and small mammals make this a place a great get away from Kampala and spend some hours a day or a quiet overnight stay at the Mabira Rainforest Lodge– a beautiful Eco-Lodge in the ancient rainforest that was first inhabited by original people of the forest in the Buganda area who were the Nakalanga people which were pygmies like most of the early inhabitant of Uganda and even today there are some who come to Mabira Rainforest to honor the spirits of Nakalanga.
Mabira Rainforest is a rain catchment for areas supplying Ssezibwa and Nile Rivers, the Rainforest should be enlarged, not reduced through illegal logging and twice previously proposed giveaways of portions of the forest for planting sugarcane fields. These illegal loggers have no clue that Mabira Forest is home to some endangered species such as birds, do not realize that Mabira Forest is a place where traditional healers come to gather herbal medicine for various ailments. These shortsighted loggers are clueless about the tourism potential of the area and the income it does and could produce giving them meaningful and legal jobs in that industry. The illegal loggers have no idea that Mabira forest influences the climate of the area in a positive way and that the forest absorbs large amount of waste gases such as carbon-dioxide, they know nothing about the carbon credits the Ugandan government can gain, noting about environmental protocols and agreement on climate change that Uganda has signed.. The Illegal loggers do not think about the hundreds of school-children who come to see a rainforest in all of its splendor. The illegal loggers do not know or care that the forest is homes to pollinators such as bees, butterflies and even birds giving the farmers around the forest a higher yield and productivity. Sadly these illegal loggers are only motivated by their selfish needs and personal greed and disregard to what many Ugandans consider a sacred place, Mabira Forest. The illegal loggers and those who instigate such logging do not realize or even care that the forest makes significant to contribution leading to the formation of the rainfall in the region allowing farmers to make a living without expensive irrigation and at Mabira Rainforest, rain is not seasonal but all year-long
Enforcement of laws is lacking though efforts have been made resulting in a reduction of the loads of logs leaving the forest daily or nightly. Chainsaws have been confiscated, the Environmental police has vowed to step up efforts against illegal logging –the reality is that they have limited resources to do so, besides loggers have spy networks that tell them of imminent raids and where.
The National Forestry Ministry must use the powers given to it along with the Environmental Police to stop all logging at Mabira Forest by stationing a permanent deterrent force at Mabira Forest increasing night time patrols in the Forest, arresting illegal loggers, find the people organizing the logging operations and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
Uganda’s people must become aware of those who under cover of night are destroying their heritage. Communities surrounding Mabira must be made aware of the long-term implications by short-sighted illegal loggers and their monetary benefactors.
Most of all – the loggers should not just receive a warning as often is done, but be prosecuted and jailed at Luzira Prison and their fate publicized in the local communities around the forest as a deterrent to others. The government of Uganda needs to sell the benefits of the forest. The rape and destruction of Mabira Forest must be stopped at all costs since it’s part of the heritage of all Ugandans. Sadly this does not just take place at Mabira Forest but in most forests in Uganda.
The Mabira forest reserve on the shores of Lake Victoria hosts valuable wildlife, serves as a timber resource, provides ecosystem services for the water balance and the rainforests represents a tourist destination. Following a proposed plan for clearing a third of the reserve for agricultural use, the values of the forest were calculated by local researchers. This economic evaluation of the forest shows that from a short-term perspective,
Flora and Fauna
The government of Uganda and its development partners especially the European Union have invested heavily in the forest since 1990 to restore previously degraded areas.
The Mabira forest is also very important to the Baganda for many reasons. The Baganda believe that Mabira forest is a home of the Buganda’s gods of rain and food. The Baganda also traditionally believe if a strong hurricane emerges from the East, this forest will help block it and it will not make it to Kabaka’s palace at Mengo. Additionally the forest thousands of tree species small and big which the Baganda and other tribes traditionally use to harvest medicine during pregnancy and childbirth.
While it may be understandable that the Ugandan government is trying to secure an adequate sugar supply as well as economic development of the country by giving part of the Mabira to SCOUL, other investors have already committed money to the forest targeting its tourism potential. The Alam group assisted by its partners in the Netherlands is already building Eco-lodge worth $2m (3.6bn Ugandan shillings) in Mabira to harness the forest’s tourism potential.
Mabira forest is a source of food in form of honey, guavas to homes surrounding the Mabira forest and to the tourists that come to tour the forest.
Mabira forest is a source of fuel in form of fire word, charcoal to the villages surrounding the forest such as Lugazi, Buikwe among others.
Mabira forest is a source of income to the peoples of Uganda especially to those working within the forest such as waitresses working in the bars within the forest. Other groups of people that benefit are the market vendors along the entrance of Mabira forest.
Even though much of the activities done in Mabira forest lead to the destruction of the forest and many people are aware that deforestation and other activities bring about drought and climate change for the worst and for the fact that forests help preventing global warming, many are also aware that destroying forests in the end will mean limited rainfall, less water in the rivers, lakes and that Agriculture along with cattle keeping will be negatively affected, they end up destroying the forest.