Ugandan experts have revealed that the country’s population is expected to rise to 75million in the next decade warning this could directly and negatively impact on forests.
The revelations come at a time the world is celebrating World Wildlife Day observed on 3 March in order to celebrate the flora and fauna of the world and also raise awareness about them.
The theme for World Wildlife Day 2021 is ‘Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’. The United Nations aims to highlight the significance of how forests give a livelihood to many communities, especially indigenous and local communities.
Robert Bitariho, Director of Uganda’s Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation said on Wednesday that use of forests is by large unsustainable in Uganda because of high population density. If in 2031 the Ugandan population is at 75 million how much forests are we going to lose?
“On average 75% of forest produce is consumed at the household level with only 25% being traded. This indicates how much forests mean to the survival of the local community,” he said.
Tom Obong Okello, Executive Director National Forestry Authority submitted that “whatever effort we are doing to address sustainable forest management we must manage forests outside gazetted forest protection areas.”
According to Obong, Forestry in Uganda is being recognized as a primary growth sector and a contributor to the goal of sustainable industrialization for growth, employment and wealth creation.
Meanwhile, Sam Mwandah, Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority says “Forest loss greatly derails Uganda’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and without forests, our survival is in jeopardy.”
David Duli, Country Director WWF said that the population is overwhelming as we have seen in Bwindi natural forest area. There is the demarcation of boundaries but the gardens are going up to the edge of the forest.
Uganda’s forest cover includes tropical forests, woodlands and plantation forests.
According to Matthias Schauer the EU representative in Uganda,”The damage done to forests and woodlands in Uganda in the past 25 years has been dramatic. We destroy unique biodiversity and intruding natural habitats hence fueling future wildlife conflicts.”
The UN plans to introduce forest wildlife management models and practices on World Wildlife Day 2021. Celebrating the livelihoods that are based in forest, the UN aims to promote practices that can help in sustainable development, including traditional practices and knowledge.