The habitat of 500 chimpanzees in Uganda’s Bugoma Forest Reserve is in danger. Conservationists and local residents are fighting to stop a company that has begun clearing trees in the protected area for a sugar plantation. Please call on the Ugandan government to keep precious land out of the hands of such dubious investors.
Plans for a sugar plantation threaten Bugoma Forest Reserve. Please take steps to prevent land from being given to investors in an unlawful manner.
Uganda was long considered the “Pearl of Africa”. Yet in recent decades, the country has lost one of its greatest treasures: its forests. 25 years ago, half of the country was still covered by forest – now it is only eleven percent. Environmentalists fear that it will be gone within ten years – and with it, the habitat of Uganda’s 5,000 remaining chimpanzees.
Not even protected areas are safe from wholesale deforestation, often for oil palm and sugar plantations. In August 2016, for example, the Bunyoro Kingdom leased an area of 8,000 hectares within the Bugoma Forest Reserve to Hoima Sugar Limited for 99 years. This could lead to the destruction of one fifth of the protected area. The kingdom had been granted a title to the land by the government only days earlier.
Shortly thereafter, workers cleared a trail several kilometers long into the reserve. According to a newspaper report, journalists documenting the clearing were threatened by workers armed with machetes, bows and arrows. “They know they are doing illegalities and that is why they are moving with arrows to harm whoever tries to interfere,” said forest supervisor Robert Busiku.
While legal action by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) prompted the revocation of Hoima Sugar’s concession, the forest is not yet safe: “The local people need all the support they can get to preserve the forest that is central to their lives for future generations,” says Joan Akiiza of NAPE.
Please call on Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to keep land out of the hands of dubious investors and protect the forests instead.