Jump to Navigation

REDD will ease deforestation in Uganda

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
June 2010
Publisher Name: 
National Forestry Authority
Moses Watasa
Author e-Mail: 
More like this


A global program, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is starting in Uganda. Derived from the 2007 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, REDD seeks to address climate change through reversing rapid depletion of the world’s forest resources.

REDD is crafted on the backdrop of scientific proof that deforestation releases 20% of atmospheric Green House Gases (GHGs). A swelling canopy of GHGs (with 80% from industrial emissions) holds heat which is now linked with global warming.

Reversing deforestation controls emissions but more importantly, forests are carbon sinks that clean the atmosphere by absorbing GHGs.  Under REDD, resources are mobilized through multi-lateral and bi-lateral arrangements for interventions that address ‘drivers’ of deforestation. Uganda’s REDD program is starting with funds channeled through the World Bank.

With an aggregate forest cover of 80,000 ha lost annually (73,000 ha on private land and 7,000 ha in Protected Areas, REDD is timely in Uganda.  Some experts have been warning that at the current rate of deforestation, Uganda’s forests face total annihilation by 2050! REDD’s emphasis on the underlying socio-economic drivers of deforestation will complement the legal regime and enforcement mechanisms to improve our forestry sector.

Attacks on forest officers, persistent encroachment on Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) and spiraling extraction of timber make a solid case for alternative interventions alongside enforcement of conservation laws. In Uganda, we have communities whose very livelihoods have been weaved with forest resources for generations.

In such communities, REDD’s emphasis on channeling resources towards cultural and economic ‘drivers’ of deforestation presents real possibilities for positive engagement. National Forestry Authority (NFA’s) experience with the Collaborative Forest Management (CFM), strategy shows that this model is more sustainable.

CFM is a mutually beneficial strategy under-which joint-management agreements are signed with forest-neighboring communities. The communities commit to protect CFRs while NFA offers them support to establish non-consumptive forest-based projects like tree-planting, bee-keeping, eco-tourism and wood-lot establishment.

Communities develop alternative livelihoods without foraging from and degrading CFRs. For NFA, CFM is ‘cheaper’, effective and diffuses conflict with forest-adjacent communities. We note that in Uganda, CFRs under CFM are largely intact because the communities are NFA’s ‘police-force’. However, with just 26 CFM agreements signed to-date, its resource constraints holding the replication of this model.

Outside Protected Areas (with 70% of Uganda’s forest cover), REDD could explore drivers of deforestation in specific localities. For instance in some parts of Uganda, the umbrella tree is associated with doom and is cut down on sight! Elsewhere, under REDD, tools and skills for minimizing consumption of fuel-wood can be considered.

At policy-level, REDD could support efforts towards increasing power generation and reducing tariffs which have rendered electricity unaffordable. Due to high power costs many people have opted for charcoal and firewood as fuel-wood. REDD could also consider institutional support to bodies like NFA, District Forestry Services (DFS) and conservation NGOs.

NFA is leading the build-up to REDD but its success hinges on support from other stakeholders i.e. policy-makers, civil society, the media, communities political and religious leaders. Multiple consultations starting in May 2010 will therefore adopt multiple proposals to evolve consensus on REDD in Uganda.

At a recent Barclays – NFA aforestation initiative in Nonve CFR, Wakiso District Chairman, Ian Kyeyune endorsed conservation practices that resonate with community aspirations. If the up-coming REDD consultations yield a consensus close to this proposal, the future of our forestry sector would be brighter.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut