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

Sources:

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

#conservation #forest

Did you know that many of the US Government’s agencies, such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), USGS (United States Geological Survey), and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have a catalog of free nature publications that you can download onto your device?

You may think that NASA is focused solely on exploration off-earth.   However, they have an extensive earth-based research mission as well.   

Here is a screenshot from one of their free publications entitled “Earth Book.”  This book showcases NASA’s satellite views and the views are stunning.  A country location and an explanation of what the image depicts accompany each photo.   

You can download this ebook at:  https://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/earth_detail.html

 

The USGS also publishes quite a bit of material.  Consider the US Geological Survey Migratory Bird Science, 2020–21 catalog.  This Burrowing Owlsvolume lists the current (2021) activities of USGS scientists supporting the conservation and management of migratory birds.  It includes some striking bird photos too. 

I never would have guessed that they are engaged in 219 individual projects.  The projects range from “Avian Food Webs, Prey Resources, and Foraging Ecology” to “Evaluating Nest Site Selection of Arctic Peregrine Falcons in the Colville River Special Area.”  

Each project has a link to where you can learn more.   I will be digging into these studies soon!

Here is how you can check them out yourself:  https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1480/cir1480.pdf

 

Lastly, NOAA also creates publications worth reviewing.  NOAA’s Central Library site connects to some fairly technical papers concerning climate and the environment.   However, there are also some more accessible titles.  For example, try this one:  

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17524032.2019.1649291?needAccess=true

This paper is entitled, “Encouraging Safe Wildlife Viewing in National Parks: Effects of a Communication Campaign on Visitors’ Behavior.”   It discusses how closely you can safely view wildlife and how you motivate people to observe the rules.  This is a topic that I’ve also wondered about.   Balancing the risk of animal habituation and possible food dependence, and additional concerns of people thinking they are tame is a major challenge. 

I’m not sure how this ended up in NOAA’s area of responsibility, but I’m glad it is being studied.

NOAA offers many more titles at the Central Library:  https://library.noaa.gov/Research-Tools/Subject-Guides/NOAA-Articles

Why not explore these publications.   These are your tax dollars at work.   Might as well enjoy!