Many of Uganda’s forests are being threatened by encroachment and pressure for farmland and fuel. As forests help to lock up carbon, their degradation has major implications for climate change. Their destruction also leads to biodiversity loss and poverty for people dependent on the forests’ resources.
West Bugwe is one of only three natural forests remaining in Uganda’s Eastern region. Despite its designation as a Central Forest Reserve, it has continued to be degraded by encroachment and illegal activities such as charcoal burning, farming and fuel wood collection.
We have held several stakeholder meetings including a public awareness-raising event about the importance of West Bugwe Forest. We have helped restore 20 hectares of degraded forest by planting with indigenous species and removed invasive species from 30 hectares. We have also carried out ecological surveys of the forest, including its plants, butterflies and birds. Our bird surveys have recorded a total of 109 species.
We have trained 100 households in sustainable livelihood techniques such as briquette making, building smokeless ovens, agroforestry, Farming God’s Way and beekeeping to provide alternative fuel for home use, economically empower families living around the forest and reduce pressure on West Bugwe.
Through our environmental education activities, we are working with 12 schools and two churches and we are training community members to carry out forest patrols, become forest-conservation ambassadors and to work with the National Forest Authority to stop illegal activities in West Bugwe.