By Paul Kato
Recently, the media reported that local authorities in Butambala district were protesting a move by National Forest Authority (NFA) to replace the indigenous trees in Nawandigi Forest Reserve with exotic tree species.
This was too bad because the natural forest reserves surely cannot be replaced by artificial forests. We all know that when these eucalyptus trees grow up, they will be cut for timber and firewood. This means that no forest will be seen again.
In Butambala, National Forestry Authority, mandated to manage all the central forest reserves, was cutting down the indigenous tree species such as Mvule, Musizi, and Mahogany in the forest and replacing them with eucalyptus trees which are not suitable for the soils and the climate for the district.
The replacement of natural forest reserves with artificial forests is likely to happen in other forests like Bugoma and Zoka forest reserves that are already under pressure from other human activities like farming.
The NFA should know that the Eucalyptus trees have adverse ecological impacts like the decline in soil fertility through acidification, reduction in forage availability due to allopathic effect, and a decline in the availability of groundwater.
Eucalyptus trees highly compete for soil nutrients with other plants and don’t provide shelter and food for native fauna among others. In addition to that, the NFA needs to know that Eucalyptus and wildlife do not go hand in hand.
The NFA needs to conserve the natural forest reserves such as Nawandigi, Zoka, Bugoma, and Mabira among other because they are better habitat for wildlife.
It is also noted that these natural forest reserves created naturally nature have got a lot of environmental advantages. Natural forest reserves provide a variety of food and shelter to animals, provide natural oxygen, local herbs, attract rainfall, and reduce gas emissions in the atmosphere.
National Forestry Authority shouldn’t replace natural forest reserves with Eucalyptus trees which don’t contribute much to the environment, economy, and people’s livelihoods.
The replacement of the natural forests with artificial forests will cause a shortage of food and shelter for animals hence leading to human-animal conflicts, an outbreak of diseases resulting from an interaction between the animals and people and destruction of food crop and other.
I call on all the natural forest host communities, local leaders, the government of Uganda, and all environmentalists to ensure that our natural forest reserves are not replaced by Eucalyptus trees which don’t contribute much to the country’s economy, people’s livelihoods, and environment.
Research Associate at African Institute for Energy Governance
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