- A new global report on Environment has warned that Uganda could be a total dessert in 40 years if the government fails to protect the country’s forests. Uganda has reportedly lost more than 30 percent of its forest between 1990 and 2005.
The findings of the State of the Environment Report for 2008, has blamed the great loss of forest cover to human activities, which include among others agriculture, a fast growing population and rapid urbanisation.
The report said Uganda’s forest cover was at 5 million hectares in 1990 but reduced to 3.5 million hectares by 2005.
The National Environment Management Authority Executive Director, Aryamanya Mugisha, has also warned of dire environmental effects if no immediate remedial measures are put in place to reverse the trend.
“In 41 years from today, if the current rate of deforestation continues, the per capita forest cover will be zero because already we are tending towards desertification-like conditions,” he said, saying for the country to lose the forests at the current rate is extremely worrying because it is very difficult to replace the forests.
Mr Mugisha said deforestation is highest outside the protected areas. There are currently 698 gazetted forest reserves in Uganda.
The report at the same time paints a bleak picture of the future of the country’s wetlands. It indicates that at least 7 percent of the original wetland area has been converted for other uses. “This has resulted in loss of biodiversity especially for species that thrive in wet habitats or those that use wetlands for breeding,” says the report.
Districts that have lost significant areas of their wetland, according to the report, include Jinja, Mayuge, Kabale, Kisoro and Iganga.
Water and Environment Minister Maria Mutagamba said issues raised in the report need to be addressed within a sustainable development framework. She said it is the duty of every Ugandan to participate in implementing issues that deal with the environment.
According to the report, Kibaale, Mukono, Wakiso, Hoima, Mayuge, Mubende, Mpigi, Mityana and Masindi have the highest deforestation rates.
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