Uganda: Looking at the impact of deforestation

Charcoal is an integral part of everyday life in Uganda, where most people rely on some form of wood fuel to cook or boil water. For many, the sale of trees also provides a valuable income. Yet this levelling of the landscape, which causes loss of habitat for wildlife and leads to climate change, is unsustainable

Trees in Nwoya district, northern Uganda

Uganda’s charcoal trade is causing rapid destruction of the country’s forests. Each year, about 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) are cleared for the production of charcoal or timber, according to the National Forestry Authority. Demand for charcoal has increased dramatically over recent years, driven by Uganda’s population growth and urbanisation. Campaigners warn the trade is now unsustainable, and local leaders are trying to crack down on the cutting of trees for charcoal

Wood collected for charcoal burning in Koch Lii, Nwoya district, Northern Uganda

Wood collected for charcoal burning in Koch Lii in Nwoya district, northern Uganda. In the worst years of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency, residents fled northern Uganda and the forests became impenetrable. Now Nwoya loses 20-40 hectares each month, according to Okello Alfred Okot, a local government representative. ‘The rate at which these people are cutting trees is terrible,’ he says. The authorities of Nwoya, Amuru and Gulu districts have all banned the trade. Anyone caught violating the ban is fined 1.5m Ugandan shillings per truckload (£300)

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