Victory in Uganda for fighters for Mabira forest

This video is called Prevent destruction of the Mabira Forest.

From Reuters:

Uganda scraps controversial rainforest plan

KAMPALA – Uganda has agreed to scrap an unpopular plan to give a swath of protected rainforest to a sugar planter, the independent Daily Monitor said on Wednesday.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment on what the newspaper said was a final decision not to allow Mabira forest to be destroyed and replaced with sugarcane.

“We have committed ourselves to conserving Mabira Forest,” Finance Minister Ezra Suruma was quoted by the paper as saying at a Commonwealth meeting on climate change in Guyana.

“There is other land in Uganda suitable for sugarcane growing,” he added.

Uganda’s cabinet suspended the plan by President Yoweri Museveni to give 7,100 hectares (17,540 acres), or nearly a third of Mabira Forest to the privately owned Mehta Group’s sugar estate in May, following a public outcry. …

Critics say razing part of Mabira would threaten rare species, lose a watershed for streams that feed Lake Victoria and remove a buffer against pollution from two industrial towns.

Scientists estimate some 20 percent of net global emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for climate change, are caused by deforestation, because trees suck carbon from the atmosphere.

Experts say Mabira sinks millions of tons of carbon.

A spokesman for Museveni, Tamale Mirundi, told Reuters new land must be found for the sugarcane.

“If the government finds an alternative, I don’t think the president has any special interest in pursuing this,” he said.

This disastrous plan was said to be off the table before; then, it came back on the table again.

Let us hope that the Ugandan government now keeps it off forever.

Thank you, all Ugandan and other friends of Mabira forest, for your actions, which now apparently have led to victory.

See also here.

And here.

8 thoughts on “Victory in Uganda for fighters for Mabira forest

    Uganda Government Finally Scraps Mabira Rainforest Giveaway
    Rainforest Portal a project of Ecological Internet, Inc.– Rainforest Portal — Rainforest Newsfeed

    October 17, 2007
    OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet

    In a major victory for Uganda’s people, rainforests,
    environment and ecologically sustainable development
    aspirations; the Ugandan government has finally scrapped
    controversial plans to allow Mabira rainforest, one of the
    country’s largest and most important protected area, to be
    partially cleared for sugar production for biofuels. This
    may sound slightly familiar, as on a previous occasion it
    was reported the plan was dead but it came back to haunt
    us. Statements by the government this time are from the
    Minister of Finance, other numerous sources and are more
    firm. Mabira rainforest will remain protected, and a
    precedent has been set that protected rainforests must not
    be cleared for biofuel production. This is huge!

    The “Save Mabira Rainforest Crusade” represents a
    historical moment in Africa’s modern environmental
    movement; as Ugandans used cell phones and Internet
    technologies to organize street protests. Ecological
    Internet has been extremely pleased to lead an
    international support campaign for Mabira protestors, as
    nearly two million protest emails were sent by 11,000
    network participants (YOU!) from 111 countries. This was
    the most participation and total messages ever.

    Sadly, perhaps the biggest factor in the victory was the
    recent severe flooding throughout Uganda and neighboring
    countries which were widely reported to have been
    exacerbated by deforestation. We at Ecological Internet
    very much desire that seeds from the Mabira rainforest go
    forth to restore rainforests, development opportunities and
    peoples’ hope. Please continue to take action and to
    forward messages to grow our reach and effectiveness.
    Current alerts can be found at .

    To comment:


    ITEM #1
    Title: Country Uganda Scraps Controversial Rainforest Plan
    Source: Copyright 2007, Reuters
    Date: October 18, 2007

    Uganda has agreed to scrap an unpopular plan to give a
    swath of protected rainforest to a sugar planter, the
    environment minister said on Wednesday.

    Maria Mutagamba told Reuters the government had finally
    rejected a request by the privately owned Mehta Group to
    destroy a third of Mabira Forest and convert it to

    “The idea of sugar growing in Mabira is no longer there. We
    are looking for money for other land,” she said.

    Uganda’s cabinet suspended the proposal by President Yoweri
    Museveni to give 7,100 hectares (17,540 acres) or nearly a
    third of Mabira Forest to Mehta’s sugar estate in May,
    following a public outcry.

    Three people died in violent protests against the plan,
    including an Indian stoned to death by rioters. Mehta is
    owned by an ethnic Indian family.

    “A committee of cabinet was set up to examine the plan but
    did not get back to us. In the meantime, other land was
    identified,” Mutagamba explained.

    Critics said razing part of Mabira would have threatened
    rare species, dried up a watershed for streams that feed
    Lake Victoria and removed a crucial buffer against
    pollution of the lake from two industrial towns.

    Scientists estimate some 20 percent of net global emissions
    of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes climate
    change, are the result of deforestation, because trees suck
    carbon from the atmosphere.

    Experts say Mabira sinks millions of tonnes of carbon.

    This was the second time the government has heeded public
    anger over plans to trash forests — in May, it withdrew a
    license to Kenyan company, Bidco, to bulldoze a protected
    forest on an island in Lake Victoria to plant palm oil.

    A spokesman for President Museveni, Tamale Mirundi, said
    new land would have to be secured for the sugarcane.

    Mutagamba said land had been spotted but the complex, semi-
    feudal system of land ownership meant the government would
    have to buy the land itself from small-holders.

    “We want to encourage investors to do this kind of
    business. They can’t start negotiating with 30,000

    The government is trying to draw up maps of land available
    to investors in Uganda for sectors like coffee, sugar,
    manufacturing or tourism that do not encroach on forests.

    ITEM #2
    Title: Govt Finally Drops Mabira Giveaway
    Source: Copyright 2007, Monitor
    Date: October 17, 2007
    Byline: Enock Mayanja Kiyaga & Emmanuel Gyezaho

    THE Government has finally dropped plans to give away part
    of Mabira Forest to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Ltd,
    ending months of public apprehension and controversy.

    The move will stand out as a sweet victory for
    environmental activists who have crusaded for months
    against the giveaway of the forest to the Mehta Industrial
    family which owns Scoul.

    Finance Minister Ezra Suruma on Monday announced that the
    government was abandoning the planned giveaway at a dinner
    hosted by the President of the Republic of Guyana, Bharrat
    Jagdeo, in Georgetown, Guyana.

    “We have committed ourselves to conserving Mabira Forest,”
    Dr Suruma said, stressing that the government is at the
    forefront of conserving forests. Pressed to substantiate,
    Dr Suruma said: “There is other land in Uganda suitable for
    sugarcane growing.”

    Dr Suruma is in the South American country to attend the
    2007 Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Meeting (CFFM) on
    climate change. The conference, which precedes the IMF and
    World Bank meeting in Washington DC and Chogm in Uganda, is
    organised by the Commonwealth secretariat to create a
    platform for member countries from both developed and
    developing countries sit together to agree on a common

    Water and Environment Minister Maria Mutagamba told Daily
    Monitor yesterday that if Dr Suruma has spoken, then his
    word can not be doubted. “If the Minister of Finance is
    saying that Mabira won’t be sold, then that is a fact. He
    has had the authoritative position of the government.”

    The new government position, she said, is contained in a
    report by a Cabinet subcommittee that was created to
    consider the proposal to allocate 7,1000 hectares of the
    natural rainforest to the Mehta family to expand its sugar
    estate. Although the report is yet to be discussed in
    Cabinet, she said, “It is a happy ending, isn’t it?”
    Sporadic riots broke out in the country in April, claiming
    the lives of one Indian and five Ugandans, over the planned
    forest giveaway but more than five months later, no
    official government position had been reached.

    Last month, Ms Mutagamba told Parliament that no decision
    had been taken on whether to degazzette or give out part of
    Mabira to Scoul “or to any other person” because the
    Cabinet sub-committee was yet to conclude its

    Following growing outrage and public hostility over the
    proposal, several land owners, including the Kabaka of
    Buganda, offered the Mehta family alternative land on which
    to expand their sugar estate but the government insisted
    none would be as cost effective as Mabira.

    But the Suruma announcement will go miles in soothing
    tensions over the forest.

    Shadow Environment Minister Beatrice Anywar Atim, who is
    the chief campaigner of the Save Mabira Crusade, yesterday
    commended the government for backtracking on the proposal.
    “Wow, that is really good news for me and congratulations
    to the whole country. We must thank the government for
    listening to the voice of the people,” said Ms Anywar, also
    Kigtum woman MP.

    “It would have been a shame to violate what matters to the
    rest of the world.”

    Focusing on the special theme for the meeting – The
    Challenges Facing Finance Ministers, Dr Suruma said his
    ministry had responded vigorously to climate change by re-
    adjusting the budget to address the flood disaster in
    northern and eastern Uganda. He said Shs22 billion had been
    committed to the cause as a supplementary budget to be
    spent on roads, food, aid and re-settlement.

    At least 44 finance ministers in the Commonwealth are
    attending the conference.

    Speaking at the opening of the meeting, President Bharrat
    Jadgdeo warned against tropical deforestation as a major
    way of addressing the issue of climatic change. He noted
    that deforestation contributes 18 per cent of the global
    greenhouse gas emissions- which is about the same as the
    US, the equivalent of India and China combined, and more
    than a cumulative total of aviation since aviation began.
    He said in 24 hours, deforestation will release as much
    carbondioxide into the atmosphere as 8 million people
    flying from London to New York.

    “That climate change demands the attention of global
    leaders is no longer in doubt,” he said. The Commonwealth
    Deputy Secretary General, Mr Ransford Smith, said Climate
    change represents, perhaps, the single largest challenge to
    the world’s collective future.

    He warned that as the world looks for ways to reduce carbon
    emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change, it is
    clear that Finance ministers and global economic
    institutions have a key contribution to make. The meeting
    ends today.



    Mayor Bloomberg: We Love New York, But Hate Your Government’s
    Rainforest Destruction!

    Rainforest Portal a project of Ecological Internet
    November 2, 2007

    New York City is one of the biggest rainforest destroyers; and
    their use of tropical hardwoods must end to protect global
    climate, ecosystems and biodiversity

    New York City’s (NYC) Department of Parks and Recreation is
    one of America’s largest destroyers of rainforests, reports
    New York based Rainforest Relief. Parks and other NYC and
    state agencies including the Department of Transportation
    (DOT) and NYC Transit use hundreds of thousands of board feet
    of tropical hardwoods per year. New York City’s use of ancient
    forest timbers comes at great expense to the Earth’s
    biodiversity, ecosystems, climate and prospects for achieving
    global ecological sustainability… Please support Rainforest
    Relief’s and NY Climate Action Group’s campaign demanding that
    Mayor Bloomberg end NYC’s use of tropical hardwoods. In order
    to protect ancient forests, the people who live there, and
    global climate; NYC purchases of timbers derived from ancient
    forests must be stopped and an important precedent set that
    all industrial scaled ancient forest logging must end forever.




  3. Uganda: Mabira Forest to Stay, Says VP Bukenya

    New Vision (Kampala)

    18 November 2007
    Posted to the web 19 November 2007

    Gerald Tenywa

    THE Vice-President, Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, has assured environmental activists and donors that Mabira Forest Reserve will not be degazetted for sugarcane growing.

    “We are a democratic country and had to listen to the people.”

    Bukenya was addressing journalists at the Nile Resort in Jinja on Saturday.

    “You can develop without disrupting ecology. It is possible to plant trees to replace those that have been cut down.”

    He cited the example of the ground on which the British Parliament stands, which he said was previously a swamp.

    “What we could look at is the entire ecological system and consider what would happen to the rest of the ecological system if some trees are cut down.”

    The Vice-President had earlier presided over the drafting of recommendations (The Jinja Declaration) that will be debated during the Commonwealth summit that starts in Kampala on Friday.

    The recommendations will also form part of the discussions at the UN meeting on climate change in Bali, Indonesia, next month.

    Bukenya said climate change in Uganda was manifested in the adverse weather and climate conditions “Between 1991 and 2,000, Uganda experienced seven droughts, compared to about seven during the period 1900 to 1970,” he said.

    “The last years have also witnessed an increase in intensity and frequency of heavy rains, floods and landslides in the highland areas as well as outbreaks of diseases.”

    Bukenya called for action against climate change.

    “The most developed countries will be required to do more. This is not only because they contribute and continue to contribute to most of the causes and sustenance of climate change, but also because the UN framework on climate change emphasises differentiated responsibilities to address climate change effectively.”

    Bukenya also launched last year’s the National State of Environment Report and the fourth Global Environment Outlook report.


  4. Uganda: Hoima Wildlife Reserve to Be Degazetted

    New Vision (Kampala)

    9 December 2007
    Posted to the web 10 December 2007

    Raymond Baguma, John Thawite and Gerald Tenywa

    PLANS are underway to degazette part of Kaiso-Tonya wildlife conservation area in Hoima district, for the establishment of a mini-refinery and power plant under the petroleum Early Production Scheme.

    The assistant commissioner in the petroleum exploration and production department, Ernest Rubondo, said the plant would be constructed by Tullow Oil early next year.

    “The area needed is small, not more than a tenth of the game reserve.”

    “Tullow Oil has proposed several areas within the reserve. They will write to the National Environment Management Authority and make an environment impact assessment report,” Rubondo said recently.

    He was speaking during a workshop on the draft national oil and gas policy organised by the Ministry of Energy.

    However, the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Moses Mapesa, said they were not aware of the proposal to degazette Kaiso-Tonya.

    “It is necessary for the Ministry of Energy to consult us because we have been working on many issues, but they have not informed us about plans to degazette the park.”

    Mapesa did not rule out the possibility for the wild animals to co-exist with the extraction of oil.

    “It is possible to extract the oil and keep the wildlife reserve which is one of the areas that generate rain,” he said.

    He said a team of experts on wildlife, natural resource and geologists would have to conduct studies on the implications of degazetting the park before a decision is made.

    State minister for energy Kamanda Bataringaya said the mini-refinery would begin running in June 2009. The plant is expected to produce paraffin (kerosene), diesel and heavy fuel oils, which will be used in the generation of about 80 megawatts of power, he added.

    Bataringaya said the transmission line would be installed at a cost of $70m.

    It will supply electricity from Kaiso-Tonya to the entire western Uganda region.

    Bataringaya said a petroleum fund would be set up to manage revenue accruing from the exploration of oil.

    The principal geologist, Robert Kasande, said the plant would refine 400 barrels of oil per day for kerosene, diesel and heavy fuel oils.

    Plans were underway to carry out a feasibility study for the setting up of a power transmission line from Kaiso-Tonya, he added.

    The workshop, which was held in Kasese town, attracted local and cultural leaders from districts located in the Albertine Rift Valley. They are Bundibugyo, Kasese, Kibale, Kyenjojo, Kamwenge, Bushenyi, Rukungiri and Kanungu.

    The participants asked the Government to give royalties to cultural institutions and protect cultural sites during oil exploration.

    The participants also requested the Government to be transparent and provide jobs to Ugandans rather than expatriates.


  5. The Monitor (Kampala)

    Uganda: Oil – Environment Watchdog Questions Tullow Activities

    John Tugume and Chris Obore

    17 April 2010

    Kampala — The national environmental governing body has faulted petroleum explorer, Tullow Oil, on a number of issues that have left the surrounding at risk of destruction, Saturday Monitor has learnt.

    Among the issues raised is that Tullow’s environment experts were unqualified.

    In a letter addressed to the Tullow Oil general manager, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Executive Director Henry Aryamanya-Mugisha says issues like waste management, well testing, environmental experts and work plans needed urgent attention.

    Not happy

    “I wish to reiterate that I am not happy with the environmental performance of your activities and require that you take immediate action to solve the observed weakness,” Dr Aryamanya said in the letter.

    The letter, written after a field visit to the Tullow Oil wells by officials from NEMA, Petroleum Exploration Department and State House recently, highlights the need for an action plan as to how the waste will be managed.

    Although the law requires Tullow Oil to regularly submit results of monitoring that include sampling and testing of the wastes generated, NEMA is yet to receive such reports.

    “I am therefore asking you to submit a time bound action plan on waste management before the end of April for our review and approval,” the letter dated March 22, a copy of which Saturday Monitor has seen, reads.

    He also noted that Tullow’s environmental experts are actually not qualified to handle challenges in the same field.

    “The experts do not seem to have knowledge and understanding on environmental issues related to management of wastes… I noted with concern that the experts are either resident in Kampala or abroad,” Mr Aryamanya-Mugisha further wrote.

    Denies allegations

    When contacted, the Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr Jimmy Kiberu, denied NEMA’s allegations, saying: “However, while we don’t agree with all their feedback, NEMA have recently stated that they are not satisfied with parts of our work and we have, since receipt of this letter in March, been working hard to rectify the criticisms made of us.”

    Mr Kiberu said they are currently drawing-up plans for waste disposal as part of the wider basin development plans and that they would make those plans clear when they have agreed them with the relevant authorities.

    “Our experts both internal to Tullow and external, are highly qualified in this area. They ensure that robust solutions to waste management are delivered responsibly.”

    Although according to the letter, also copied to the ministries of Energy, Water and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Tullow agreed that the transportation of crude oil will involve likelihoods of spillages, there is no contingency plan on the ground.

    But Mr Kiberu said: “All activities are undertaken in line with requirements of Ugandan regulations. We do not currently transport crude oil in Uganda. Our spillage strategy will be agreed with the relevant authorities, including NEMA, before production (and transportation) begins.”

    Tullow Oil is currently exploring oil in the Albertine region which is the principal prospective area for petroleum in Uganda.

    It forms the northern most part of the western arm of the East African Rift Valley and stretches from the border with Sudan in the north to Lake Edward in the south, a distance of over 500km.

    Danger to waters

    Once the oil spill over is not dealt with well, such features as Lakes Albert, Edward and George could be affected as well as game park in Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Semlike, Kibaale and Mount Rwenzori national parks.

    On Tuesday, experts from UWA told MPs that toxic waste from oil exploration were killing animals at Murchison Falls National Park.


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