Yesterday, I was looking for some information about the current state of forests in Uganda. I just finished reading an article from 2009 that expressed grave concern about the rapid deforestation in that country. It stated that Uganda had lost almost a third of its forest cover since 1990. Reasons included population growth, increased urbanization, and expanding farming.
I was curious to discover if the country had responded and was progressing towards a forest recovery. Searching the internet, I found a report by the Government of Uganda from 2015 that discussed the many initiatives the country sponsored. The government then admitted that despite these efforts, the country continues to lose forest at an increasing rate.
Peak destruction occurred in 2017. Since then, the trends appear to be improving due to additional efforts. Nonetheless, during 2020, 80% of the country’s timber trade was carried out illegally.
I wish I could be reporting on a more sustainable success. Sadly, it is not the case.
As a side note, however, during my research, I did find a resource that is worth sharing. The website is called Global Forest Watch and is managed by the World Resources Institute. I don’t know this organization’s history, mission, nor it’s political leanings. I do believe it provides consulting services to governments seeking to conserve forests and other natural resources.
Regardless of their motivations, their tools seem powerful. I wanted to see what kind of forest coverage changes had occurred in my state of Maine. See the picture of the results of my inquiry. What I learned was that tree loss has increased in the past 5 years. I was a bit surprised by this. I assumed most tree harvesting had moved to Scandinavia where there are dominant paper mills.
Note the darker purple areas. I had turned on a filter to see the impact of deforestation on biodiversity. This analysis includes those birds, amphibians, and mammals dependent on forests. While it doesn’t appear to be a major concern in Maine, hence the lighter purple, there are significant dark areas along migratory pathways in the Southeast.
I haven’t fully explored the potential of this tool as yet but will continue to play around with it. I suggest you try it out as well. Please report any interesting or unexpected findings.
You can connect to the website directly from here: https://www.globalforestwatch.org
Uganda forest in 2009 – https://phys.org/news/2009-06-uganda-forests-rapidly.html
Uganda forest in 2015 – https://www.mwe.go.ug/sites/default/files/State%20of%20Uganda%27s%20Forestry-2015.pdf
Uganda forest in 2020 – https://enactafrica.org/enact-observer/ugandas-reforestation-plan-cuts-illegal-logging